The Neutral City – War Damage Reconstruction Agency – Housing Construction

In the post-war period, Western idea of building was injected into Japan. Under the international style and invention of reinforced concrete in the early 19th century, Japan housing was reconstructed in a western manner under the assistance of the War Damage Reconstruction Agency. The enforcement of the housing standards issued by the War Damage Reconstruction Agency also indicated the significance of modernisation 2.0 in which it involved not only foreign force but also the local institution that brought about the transformation. War Damage Reconstruction Agency was established in 1945 and it stressed on the Research and Development of the non-combustible housing types. In 1947, first housing standards was issued by it which included standard specification for concrete housing construction.

The greatest problem is the housing shortage and urge to improve incombustibility of building material to prevent any extensive housing fire in the city in the post-war period. Concrete Prefabricated Building method was born in the post-war period to increase urban incombustibility. As to eliminate the problem of housing shortage and urban incombustibility, research and development of simple concrete started to look into incombustible assembled building. In 1947, the war damage reconstruction agency cooperated with the academic industry to create ‘simple concrete building housing standard’ which was able to supply large quantities and houses rapidly with less material and labour efforts. Apart from the post-war reconstruction aspect, the housing type also upheld the importance of resisting refractory earthquake so as to bring stability and sustainability to post-war citizens.

Prefabricated concrete construction can be categorised into 4 types: 1) precast concrete members are joint by bolting in-situ; 2) assembly of bricks 3) column and beams structure 4) composite: combined use of two or more of 1), 2) and 3). In 1949, the first reinforced concrete structure was built, whose foundation, columns, floor slabs and external walls were pre-fabricated and assembled in-situ, the project was named “pre-con” (「プレコン」).

Significant example of the reinforced concrete construction included the municipal peace department which was the first reinforced concrete-made public housing in Hiroshima. In the department, there is no balcony. On the other hand, as a result of the expansion of the bathroom later, the facade is rich in irregularities, and the expression of a thin slab is also combined to make it look like a modernist architecture.

After the standard design, dining and kitchen was designed to separate from sleeping area. However, in this work, both dining and sleeping are done in the living room.

From the intervention of the War Damage Reconstruction Agency in the area of housing construction, we can see that modernisation was brought not only in the area of materiality which was mainly affected by international style brought from the American, it also included local effort in restructuring the construction method in response to the housing material in a larger scale. Yet, the interior configuration of the public housing did not change from the year of 1927 to 1949 in which we can deduce that it was still keeping the original Japanese footprint in interiority of housing in the post-war period.

 

Prefabricated concrete method for non-combustible house construction

The internal configuration of public housing throughout time

Reference:

Construction History 市営基町高層アパート , Japan Prefabricated Construction Suppliers and Manufacturers Association

http://www.purekyo.or.jp/prefabricated-building-history_japan.html

Municipal Peace Apartment 平和アパート (2007), Arch-hiroshima,

http://arch-hiroshima.info/arch/hiroshima/he_apartment.html

Norioki Isimaru, Ming Li, Mitugu Okagawa (2002), Research on the plan of reconstruction Hiroshima, 日本建築學會計劃系論文集

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