Koji Tsutsui tackles earthquake relief

by MICHELE KOH MOROLLO on Jul 23, 2012 in Architecture
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A former student of master Japanese architect Tadao Ando, Koji Tsutsui believes that good architecture can save and improve lives

Named one of the top emerging architecture offices in the world by Architectural Record Design Vanguard in 2011, and a winner of the 2012 Architectural League Prize for Young Architects + Designers, Koji Tsutsui & Associates is fast gaining recognition as a firm with a strong global and humanitarian presence.

Founder and principal architect Koji Tsutsui worked under master Japanese architect and philosopher Tadao Ando – whom he cites as his greatest influence on reconstruction projects for the 7.2 magnitude Great Hanshin Earthquake in Kobe in 1995. Today, Tsutsui continues to contribute to earthquake relief and other efforts to help improve the lives of people in disaster stricken areas. “Ando taught me to believe in the power of architecture. He taught me how, as architects, we can have a positive impact on society by creating thoughtful buildings and structures,” he says.

Upon leaving Ando’s tutelage, Tsutsui opened his own firm in Tokyo in 2004 and then another office in San Francisco in 2010. Some of his most notable projects include the Mission in Haiti – a church, school and housing compound for victims of the Haiti earthquake; a school and home for HIV orphans in Uganda; the master plans for Tohoku earthquake relief projects in Japan; the Case Study House – an environmentally-friendly and culturally progressive collective housing scheme in Mill Valley, California; and residential projects Industrial Designer House and the multi-award winning InBetween House.

The Mission in Haiti was a pro bono project for a non-profit organisation to design and rebuild a Haitian community. Tsutsui designed dormitory units that would house two foster parents and 20 orphans. “We used the idea of expandable architecture so that this project can be built in multiple phases to accommodate the limited budget,” he explains. “We built the church in the first phase and the school and dormitory will be built around it in the second phase.”

Read the full story, ‘Architecture for good’, in the August 2012 issue of Perspective magazine! 

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