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Beyond Borders : Final Project Assignement

Sixth year • 2014-15 • Paris La Villette School of Architecture

Supervising professor : Eric Locicero

Achievement of the project Beyond Borders #1 started in the University of Tokyo

Complete file : Rapport de PrésentationBeyond Borders Report (french)  •  Planches A0A0 Pannels

During my exchange year at the University of Tokyo, I worked on the subject of the Fukushima disaster in the architectural project. The main theme of this work was : How can architects act on Fukushima ? For four years, worldide architects has been thinking about emergency solutions to rehouse the population, but few are questioning the future of this vast territory now abandoned. Therefore, it was on this subject that I decided to focus my work : firstly because an anticipation of the consequences of denied territory seems to me essential, but also because this topic have interested me for a very long time: my thesis study was focused on today's interest for Dark Tourism and urban exploration in our current society, on the perception of ruined cities, but also about the process of resilience by people affected by a disaster: overcome a trauma by integrating the disaster.

While this may seem surprising, radiated areas of Fukushima attracts many interested : people nostalgic for their lands, curious tourists of the current state of the region, and scientists in search of a ground of study to observe the consequences of long-term radioactivity.

I chose to create, starting today, in Fukushima, a place that can meet the needs of all backgrounds and interests. A place that can unite those who are interested, for whatever reasons, the situation of Fukushima. A place that can leave a mark of past events, of which the consequences are invisible to the naked eye.

The program will be made of : a memorial, to pray ; an observation tower to see the unattainable ; a conference room, to communicate ; a museum, to understand the issues ; and a scientific laboratory, to study the consequences of nuclear disasters.

  Site Analysis: Fukushima                                                             

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In an emergency, in the days following the disaster, authorities have drawn a border on a 20km radius around the plant, and evacuated all the inhabitants of this area. For nearly two years, these borders haven't ceased to evolve, responding to long analyzes of contamination of the territory, to finally freeze in May 2013. There are now three types of zones : green, allowing any person to go there during the day ; Orange, where access is permitted to the public only for special reasons and with authorization ; and red, where access is forbidden to the public but allowed to nuclear workers. None of these areas can be inhabited.

It's by studying these boundaries that I founded my project. The power of physical limits and their consequences have questioned me a lot, and pushed me to look at how they have been drawn. I then realized that the design of the forbidden areas were concentrated not only on the Hamadori region, never exceeding it, but it also followed too often administrative boundaries.

Therefore, would these boundaries be political, or scientific ? The air, hence radiation, would be stoped at municipal and regional boundaries?

So I chose to focus my project by questioning borders and their symbolic power. It is part of this confrontation between human act of distinguishing spaces, and nature that does not have limits. Isn't there a form of "nonsense" in the delimitation of a radiated area, if following an administrative area?

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During my visit to Fukushima, I went as close as possible to the red zone, until being stopped at Futaba's checkpoint. So I decided to install the project Beyond Borders at this exact location. This place was the perfect place to meet the foundations of my project : the line between red zone and green zone here is the municipal boundary between Futaba and Namie ; Daiichi nuclear power plant and the abandoned village of Futaba are located 5km from that point, and therefore visible from an observation tower ; located in the green zone, it is accessible by anybody during the day and responds to Dark Tourism's thirst for adrenaline ; located on the edge of the red zone, scientists can access to their working field ; placed on a hill, it's protected from tsunami.



  Architectural conception                                                           

To create this project, I found my inspiration in the Japanese sense of space and the composition of living organisms, all the way to the smallest particle : the atom. I found many links between the natural structure and composition of our cities, where everything is made of long galleries connecting nucleus. This highlights the importance of the distance between two points, in order to allow time for migration flows to spread and integrate informations.

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MA and OKU in Japan are two complex concepts involving time and space. They are described in the book Le sens de l’espace au Japon (The sense of space in Japan), writen by Augusten Berque :

"MA is the interval which necessarily exists between two things that follows, hence the idea of break. Those two ideas of necessity and succession, i.e binding and movement, obviously introduce the notion of meaning. MA is indeed a space full of meaning.

"It works similarly to symbols : it separates while linking, in the same way as the symbol etymologically implies separation and then meeting. The semanticof MA varies according to two conditions: its place in a whole, and its scale. The one and the other are guided by (and produce) a certain rhythm.

"Architectural space in Japan is an experience, in that it uses memory, imagination and symbol, rather than is given by objects.

"According to Takeuchi, MA would arise from a change in a stream whose regularity is perceived as monotonous and poor of sense. By this change, semantics would be enriched."


Shinto shrine of Fushimi Inari Taisha in Kyoto seems to me to be the best implementation of the concept of MA. A journey of 4km around a hill, along which are settled, punctually, many shrines. The route is enriched with thousands of torii gates, symbol of the entrance, turning motion into a perpetual meditation on space and time.


"OKU is a place located deeply in the innermost of things, far from their external appearance.

"In Japan, the sacred resides in hidden and hard to reach places, unlike in Europe whose churches are visible and accessible from anywhere. What is important is hidden from the view, and many detours are necessary to access it.

"From the complex path arise space's depth. Maki recalls in this regard the long and winding corridors of the great ryokans, whose painter Usami Eiji said that detours had voluntarily been created in order to provide visitors the illusion that they penetrates deep into a distant world.

"Mitsuo Inoue analyse the same tendency, saying that the Japanese's topogenesis is fond of bend and turns. He also connects this propensity to a question of kinesthetic order : giving the impression of movement.

"This complicated journey is meant to emphasize the sensation of walking, of progressing. It is for the same reason that the roads leading to the sanctuaries on the hills often describe superfluous laces : what matters here is that progress is felt as such, in order to enhance the sacredness of the sanctuary. However, in an ordinary street, it's less the destination that counts than the journey. The roads of Japan, in some ways, favor the process (the progress) rather than the goal itself.

"Japanese spatiality intimately associates interiority to the movement. The castle's plan of the shogun in Edo, Edo-jo, perfectly illustrates these principles. The absolute asymmetry exists in the distribution of buildings and rooms, and corridors are full of setbacks. However, logic prevails here. For Inoue, the key is to understand that this is an interior, which develops organically for itself, independently of any external reference.Here, the only points of reference are those created by the topological connections of a given room with the immediately preceding room, and the immediately subsequent room. The general plan does not matter, only the order of progression does. The principle of this topological space are not prospects, but in the contrary to the visual stops, thanks to which progress is punctuated. Step by step, bend and detours unveil a new prospect. View should not be simultaneous, it should be successive. The feeling of interiory is accentuated: losing any reference to a general order, visitors are completely cut off from the outside. This is an internal topogenesis developing itself, according to its own irreducible logic. "

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This is particularly in the composition of underground architecture that are found the concepts of organizational structure (nucleus and galleries), the spatial design of MA (interval between two things) and the OKU (progression and importance detours).


  The Project : Beyond Borders                                                     

Inspired by places such as Hiroshima, Nagasaki and Chernobyl, I chose to create, starting today, in Fukushima, a place that could meet the needs of people from different intrests and backgrounds. A place that can unite those who are interested, for whatever reasons, the situation in Fukushima. A place that can leave a mark of past events, of which the consequences are invisible to the naked eye.

The program will be made of : a memorial, to pray ; an observation tower to see the unattainable ; a conference room, to communicate ; a museum, to understand the issues ; and a scientific laboratory, to study the consequences of nuclear disasters.

Like the three regulated areas of the territory, the overall project will be made according to three specific access rules : The outer part, with the memorial and the observation tower, will be open to all and free of charge, as located in the green zone. The museum and the conference room, which will be located underground, will be accessible to all for a fee, in order to fund scientific research. Finally, the science lab will be designed only for researchers.

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Experiencing a border

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A memorial, to pray

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Beyond Borders Memorial

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From the memorial to the observation tower

View from the top of the memorial's stairs

View from the path toward the observation tower

View of the observation tower

An observation tower, to see the unattainable

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An experience without borders : museum and science lab

Beyond Borders Plan Souterrain

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Deconstruction process of the ground

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Program of the museum and the scientific laboratory

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A variety of spaces, punctuated by porticos

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A double skin inserted into an underground void

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A continuous route, between wide and narrow

Beyond Borders Coupes Souterraines

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