In 2011 a 9.0 magnitude earthquake hit Japan causing a tidal wave that destroyed 4 of the main generators at Daichi nuclear power plant in Fukushima. People living within a 20 km radius of the plant were evacuated immediately due to an outpouring of dangerous levels of radiation.
5 years since the Fukushima disaster the current government is economically forcing those people back into the exclusion zone. This is despite dangerous levels of radiation still being measured in Fukushima.
Understandably this disaster has demoralised Japanese public opinion on the safety of relying predominantly on nuclear energy sources. This has forced the government’s hand to pursue new clean and renewable alternatives. Due to high levels of volcanic activity in Japan, they have discovered they are sitting on the 3rd highest potential for geothermal energy in the world.
Geothermal energy is a clean and renewable form of energy. The process involves firing cold water 4000m into the Earth’s hot crust. The steam produced is then contained in an ejection pump and used to power a generator.
This proposal is for a geothermal power station that would tap into a pre-existing volcanic pool (onsen), just within the border of the 20km exclusion zone. The structure of the geothermal power station climbs up the steep topography and stretches between pools. The heavy infrastructure needed forms the base structure for a new type of urbanism to house the people returning to this area.
Houses are electrically powered from the clean energy produced and uncontaminated water would be drawn up from the earths crust. The structure of the power plant is coated in a polyethylene damp roof coating. Combined in the polyethylene mix are particles of lead, making the entire surface of the station radiation resistant and inhabitable.
The surface of the plant therefore becomes the safest place for people to spend prolonged periods of time. Understandably people will still need to leave the hills for various activities, but the safe haven the project provides mean people wont be exposed to radiation for sustained periods in which it could become dangerous.
However, the development is still under threat from radiation seeping its way back into the landscape. Geiger counters (radiation measuring devices) are placed in strategic 20m grid across the development constantly measuring radiation carried in via the wind, water and leaves. If a reading comes back higher than 3.4 neutrons (dangerous exposure) the architecture reacts! The gigacounter metronome sounds to warn people to vacate the area. Excess water from the geothermal plant which has been stored and cooled is then expelled from fountains in that area, carrying away all irradiated matter from the rounded water proof landscape.
The project is a radiation resistant, self-cleaning basis for a new urbanism, creating the safest possible haven for the people returning to Fukushima, 5 years later.