An architectural revival after the great quake of Kobe

Despite the devastation of the earthquake in 1995, the Kobe region has almost regained its former economic vitality. Thanks to government subsidies and the participation of major architects, the city has been entirely rebuilt in line with new anti-seismic norms and is today a modern conglomeration.

A duty to remember

If you pay a visit to the south of the prefecture of Hyogo, it is difficult to escape memorial tourism, starting with a visit to the Great Hanshin-Awaji earthquake memorial museum of Kobe. Everything has been done to ensure that visitors and inhabitants alike do not forget the victims. For example, some gaping wounds have been left as they were on the day after the catastrophe. This is the case of Meriken Park in the port of Kobe, where part of the wrecked docks has been preserved, and also on the island of Awaji at the Nojima Fault Preservation Museum & Earthquake Memorial where 140m/460ft of the Nojima fault line have been preserved and incorporated into the museum. Behind Kobe town hall, in the heart of the magnificent 1995 earthquake memorial by architect Singo Kusuda, the sun’s rays illuminate the walls on which the names of those who died are inscribed.


World famous Tadao Ando

Greatly affected by the tragedy, the world-famous Japanese architect, Tadao Ando, played a major role in the reconstruction of his favourite region. The monochrome, lattice-work concrete and glazed edifice of Hyogo Prefectural Museum of Art of Kobe and the Museum of Literature of Himeji bear witness to his mineral, graphic style. His simple geometric lines seek to abolish the barriers with the outside world. One of his most distinctive and emblematic creations must be the Yumebutai hotel complex and Hyakudan botanic garden in the north-east of the island of Awaji. Built on the flank of a hillside excavated for the creation of the artificial platform of Kansai airport (KIX), this immense open-air memorial borrows both from the Renaissance and reconstruction principles.


The challenge of the future

At the summit of Mount Rokko, the unexpected geodesic dome of Shidare observatory has become an emblem for future generations. Tinged with a certain architectural poetry, this ecological project by young architect Hiroshi Sambuichi reminds the visitor that the future of humankind is inextricably entwined with that of nature. Similarly, by its choice of materials and environment, the Museum of Fine Arts and Wood Crafts of Takenaka of Kobe is also part of this new generation of buildings which place the the environment at the heart of their creation.


The author

Manuel Sanchez

Writer and photographer who seeks out contacts, other cultural identities, distinctive architectures. As a seasoned traveller, my approach has been honed little by little, from insider hacks to in-depth explorations. I especially love early travel writers, for their detail and their feeling for the sanctity and inviolability of the cultures they describe.

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