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Domed Community Center in Post-Earthquake Japan Provides Safe Space for Play

It was inspired by both forests and big tents at the circus

The rebuilding effort following any disaster is a momentous undertaking, requiring the collaboration of planners, politicians, and citizens. But the scale of devastation following Japan's historic 9.0-magnitude quake, tsunami, and subsequent nuclear meltdown on March 11, 2011 necessitated organization and collaboration to match the level of need.

Local architects, like 2013 Pritzker Prize laureate Toyo Ito, have led the pack. Part of a rebuilding program Ito began, community centers are rising across the hard-hit Tohoku region. This one, by Tokyo firm Klein Dytham Architecture, is one of 13 halls—called Soma City Homes—built in the earthquake's aftermath, and meant to provide a gathering space for members of the community concerned about lingering radiation outdoors from the nuclear fallout.

The structure features a domed, timber lattice (nine layers!) with whimsical, tree-shaped supports decorated with wooden animals. Touches like this aim to help the children "feel like [they are] playing in a forest of trees," firm co-founder Mark Dytham explained to Dezeen.

On the facade, the building is painted playful red, white, and pink stripes, with the goal of making it feel like "the circus has come to town," Dytham says. Klein Dytham donated their services to the project, collecting donations from a Tokyo bookseller to raise the needed funds.

Klein Dytham builds latticed community hall for Toyo Ito's post-earthquake recovery programme [Dezeen]

The Rise and Rise of Pop-Up Architecture [Curbed]

Small-Scale Design Helped Japan Recover From Big Earthquake [Curbed]

Klein Dytham Architecture [Klein Dytham Architecture]