Scales and Perspectives of Resilience: The Atomic Bombing of Hiroshima and Tange’s Peace Memorial

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Resilience can mean a range of things, including the ability of a city or a community to recover quickly both physically and socially, through tangible and intangible elements, physical structures, and people. Built environment scholars have picked up on the concept of resilience in recent years, interpreting it in multiple ways and creating a broad range of narratives. These narratives need to be explored critically, considering who wrote them at what time for what audience and with what narrative goals. This article explores how various actors—from architects to film makers, from historians to politicians and planners —have consciously proposed a range narratives of resilience through their depictions of post World War II Hiroshima. It first briefly reflects on the meaning of resilience. It then builds upon earlier examinations of the destruction of Hiroshima and the construction of the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park and the Peace Memorial Museum by the Japanese architect Tange Kenzō to explore how different actors conceived of resilience, for whom and from which perspective they have built narratives. In the second section, the article explores how Tange and his team managed to bring their project to realization. It suggests that administrators, architects and urbanists, have used rebuilding visions and detailed reports to create resilience narratives aimed respectively at global and local audiences. Overall, the text demonstrates that together, disaster and rebuilding, their representation in the urban environment are all part of larger societal constructions of historical identity.
Original languageEnglish
Article number6
Number of pages12
JournalArchitectural Histories
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2019


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