VENICE--Blueprints for houses to replace those lost in Japan's tsunami disaster last year have won first prize at a prestigious architecture biennale.
The display of about 130 miniature models by Japanese architects, many of them bright and airy designs, won the Golden Lion in the country-by-country category Aug. 29 at the 13th International Architecture Exhibition in Venice.
The Japanese team aimed to answer a profound question: Is architecture possible in a disaster zone?
"I think we are responsible for making this a start of a new type of architecture," said architect Toyoo Ito, 71, who devised the concept.
The architects drew on consultations with survivors of the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami, and constructed models with the theme of "A home for all." One design has already been selected for a home under construction in Rikuzentakata, Iwate Prefecture.
The jury reserved special praise for the team's presentation: Panoramic images of the devastated city covered the pavilion walls, and timbers from Rikuzentakata were displayed.
Architects who took part included Kumiko Inui, 43, Akihisa Hirata, 41, and Sosuke Fujimoto, 41. Photographer Naoya Hatakeyama, 54, provided the photographs of his native Rikuzentakata.
It is the second time Japan's pavilion has won the Golden Lion. The first was in 1996 when its theme was the 1995 Kobe quake, which is known in Japan as the Great Hanshin Earthquake.
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