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Japan disaster: Architects needed for ‘measured’ response

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Architects could spearhead a ‘sophisticated’ response to upheaval in Japan by designing for earthquake and tsunami-resistant settlements, according to disaster aid charity Article 25

More than 10,000 people are thought to be missing following a Tsunami which hit Japan’s Pacific coast in the early hours of Friday morning. The deadly wave was caused by an earthquake which caused damage to buildings the previous day.

Speaking after the disaster Stephanie Johnston, education and communications manager at Article 25, said: ‘The best way architects can think about a sophisticated response is to consider how to design a building which can withstand both earthquakes and Tsunamis.’

At this stage disaster relief must be carried out by search and rescue teams, said Johnston, however engineers and surveyors would soon be needed to carry out damage assessments and there would be opportunities for architects when reconstruction commences.

‘Japan is one of the world’s exporter countries on how to cope with disasters’, according to Johnston who explained this would have an important impact on the nature of UK architects’ support.

She added: ‘The best thing [architects] can do now is familiarise themselves with the [social and political] context for when reconstruction is ready.’

Meanwhile the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors’ (RICS) Disaster Management Commission (DMC) has pledged to provide technical ‘expertise’ to support Japan’s post-disaster damage assessments.

A statement said: ‘Japan’s highly developed earthquake mitigation and preparedness work has undoubtedly saved countless lives, however, it will need considerable support from surveyors and other built environment professionals to deal with the devastation caused by this powerful earthquake and tsunami. 

‘RICS DMC will collaborate with Japanese surveyors and other built environment professionals to promote better earthquake mitigation measures in developing countries, especially through DMC’s work in the UN’s Global Task Force on Building Codes. 

 ‘Furthermore, RICS DMC and RICS members expect to provide technical expertise to support post-disaster damage assessments, and promote the “build back better” agenda not only in Japan, but also in other countries that may be affected by the tsunami.’

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