Within weeks of the massive earthquake, tsunami, and nuclear meltdown that devastated Japan’s coast in 2011, Toyo Ito established a volunteer group of fellow architects to design community centers for refugees living in temporary housing. Home for All has since collected donations from around the world in order to construct more than a dozen such buildings, each responding to specific local needs. In Soma, 30 miles from the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, children cannot play outside because of background radiation. So Klein Dytham Architecture designed an indoor play center that evokes a forest. Astrid Klein and Mark Dytham, Home for All board members who cut their teeth at Toyo Ito & Associates, Architects, donated their time for the creation of the 1,600-square-foot round space, which evokes a forest. Resembling trees, complete with owls and squirrels perched on the branches, three cross-laminated timber structural columns rise to meet a latticework canopy formed from slats of Japanese larch bent on-site. Local materials were used wherever possible.
After another earthquake hit Japan this year, the work of Home for All continues. It is currently building 40 community centers in southern Kumamoto Prefecture, on the farthest major island from Fukushima.