Seeking to explore power as crucial factor in the design of the built environment, we will look at energy systems and related objects, from sites of generation to spaces of consumption, from distribution networks to control rooms.

Tutors: Filip Geerts and Sanne van den Breemer
Director of Studies: Salomon Frausto

Contributors: Santiago Ardila, Juan Benavides, Daniella Camarena, Stef Dingen, Marco Fusco, Jack Garay Arauzo, Theodora Gelali, Shaiwanti Gupta, Hao Hsu, Marianthi Papangelopoulou, Felipe Quintero, Gent Shehu, Siyuan Wang

Wazawai (災)

Public opinion, UndergroundNuclear, National, World War, Earthquake, Tokyo, Infrastructure, Culture, Image

The term wazawai (災) in Japanese stands for catastrophic misfortune and it’s made up of the kanji for 火 (fire) and topped by what looks like three hiragana く(ku) which is a short version of the kanji for river. Wazawai is an old kanji that originally meant the wrath of the heavens (floods and fire) descending upon the land to punish evildoers1. This catastrophe can be divided in two categories: manmade disasters (人災) and natural disasters (天災). Nuclear power explosions, fires, tsunamis, typhoons, and earthquakes are all part of the most dreaded words in Japanese language. A collective disaster anxiety is shared by default in the mind of the Japanese because of the damage that natural and manmade disasters have caused to Japanese cities. From the fires burning the city of Edo, to Tsunamis sinking the entire built fabric. Whilst natural disasters are inevitable and always around the corner in Japan, man made disasters are the result of negligent human acts of omission and commission such as war. Akira (1988) is one of the most influential post-apocalyptic manga in pop culture, the influence of this paranoia is evident. Tokyo has been destroyed by an unknown explosion in the events of World War III, making a direct reference to the atomic bombs dropped in Hiroshima and Nagasaki during World War II by the United States. Bunkers and underground tunnels were built to decrease war casualties, even under the Imperial City of Tokyo. In the book “Imperial City Tokyo: Secret of a Hidden Underground Network'', the journalist Shun Akiba speculates about the secrets that are buried in the crowded underground tunnel system of Tokyo.2 In World War II, bunkers were the safest places for any apocalyptic environment, from epidemic diseases to any natural disaster. It seems that the subterranean network was designed to shelter the population in case of a nuclear attack.

1. The Japan Times, “How to sum up Japan’s summer of disaster in Japanese?”, Kaori Shoji, September 24, 2018. Accessed March 10, 2020.
2. The Japan Times, “Seven riddles suggest a secret city beneath Tokyo”, the Japan Ties, March 1, 2013. Accessed March 12, 2020.