Located on the grounds of a public housing complex on reclaimed land off Ashiya, near Kobe, built for survivors of the Great Hanshin-Awaji Earthquake that struck the region in 1995, this monument resembles the ruins of a vanished coastline and draws inspiration from an old coastal levee. It was my hope that the inorganic ridges of concrete, which run intermittently for 400 meters through six tower blocks and the courtyards between them, would grow to be a welcome and familiar part of the scenery for the new inhabitants. Here, on newly reclaimed land, flat and lacking historical context, this monument was intended to carry implications about the history and memory of the land we live on, including the dark legacy of disasters like earthquakes and floods.
The monument is at the correct height for an actual levee, evoking the vanished coastline and sea surface, and hinting at the fact that the site was once sea. The series of parallel diagonal formations is reminiscent of layers of folded layers seen in in mountainous terrain, and echoes and amplifies the presence of Mt. Rokko, which forms a scenic backdrop to the region. Ironically, both monument and mountains run parallel to the active fault line that caused the Great Hanshin-Awaji Earthquake.
The history of a city has many layers. Like other, more historic cities constructed with considerable human intervention, such as St. Petersburg and Venice, the reclaimed area of Ashiya is, in a positive sense, built on the sacrifice of coastline and sea.
|location||Ashiya City, Hyogo|