Unite education, research and practice in innovative projects that stand out for interdisciplinary leadership

Japan: Tsunami reconstruction Yuriage 2017/18

In collaboration with
International Research Institute of Disaster Science, Tohoku University (Sendai)

Funded by
Delft Deltas, Infrastructures & Mobility Initiative (DIMI)

Staff TU Delft
Amin Askarinejad (Geo Engineering)
Jeremy Bricker (Hydraulic Engineering)
Fransje Hooimeijer (Urbanism)
Adam Pel (Transportation)
Frans van de Ven (Water Management)
Keisuke Sugano (Landscape Architecture)
Nikki Brand (Interdisciplinary Working)
Kuroishi Izumi (Architecture)

Thesis students
Toni Glasbergen (Hydraulic Engineering)
Jesse Dobbelsteen (Urbanism)
Nasiem Vafa (Urbanism)
Mustaqim Mustaqim (Geo Engineering)
Marieke van Dijk (Transportation)
Robert Moehring (Transportation)

Interdisciplinary group
Xenofon Grigoris (Hydraulic Engineering)
Sven Suijkens (Water Management)
Femke van Overstraten Kruijsse (Geo Engineering)
Ainoa Areso (Water Management)
Neil Moncrieff (Urbanism)
Marieke Oosterom (Urbanism)

Staff Irides
Fumihiko Imamura
Anawat Suppasri
Makoto Okumura
Elizabeth Maly
Kanako Iuchi
Sebastian Boret
Shuji Moriguchi
Kazuhisa Goto
Miguel Esteban

The Tohoku region of Japan is one of the most earthquake- and tsunami-prone regions on earth, and for decades has been struggling with the demographic problem of a shrinking and aging population, and the economic problem of loss of industry to large cities such as Tokyo. Nonetheless, Tohoku contains the most productive coastal fishing waters in Japan, and is thus home to a large number of fishermen and their families, who are the people most vulnerable to tsunami. Due to the high hazard in the area and the vulnerability of the population, various countermeasures such as seawalls, coastal forests, breakwaters, and gates have been constructed along this coast to reduce loss of life and property during tsunamis. The 2011 tsunami served as a proving ground to show what worked and what didn’t, as well as giving landscape architects and urban planners a clean slate (in many locales) to guide the region’s reconstruction, necessitating the inclusion of hydraulics, geotechnics, urban drainage, structural, and transportation engineers in the planning process as cities, lifelines, and transportation arteries are rebuilt and relocated. Thus, the reconstruction serves as an ideal proving ground for the effectiveness of interdisciplinary planning and design.

The project as a whole delivered a lot of knowledge about resilient design and how land-use segregation, multiple lines of defence, and hard engineering methods from Japan could be merged with Dutch ideas of building with nature and multifunctional flood defences for application to the Netherlands. The group also trained in the interdisciplinary approach and discovered how the five disciplines can interact, especially by doing the same process for two locations. To be able to interact on a deep level it turned out that scoping per discipline really improved the exchange of ideas in discussion and brings a solid base for designs of future resilient cities.

This project is organized with the aim for interdisciplinary and international cooperation. The interdisciplinary goal within the University of Technology Delft, is not only about the connection between CITG and Architecture (hydraulic engineering and urbanism) but also establish cooperation among hydraulic engineering, urban water management, transportation and geotechnical engineering to create integrated learning from the tsunami reconstruction. The international cooperation is about maintaining knowledge exchange and develop ties between researchers and the universities at TU Delft and in Japan (Tohoku University, Tokyo Institute of Technology, Waseda University, and the University of Tokyo) in the fields of flood risk management, delta planning and design.


The project is done by two groups of students: an interdisciplinary group and a group of thesis students, both groups consists of students of 5 departments, hydraulic, Geo-Sciences and Engineering, Transportation, Urban Drainage Engineering, and Urbanism. The big picture of the project was addressed by the interdisciplinary group in three phases: analyses, synthesis, and design. In the first two phases the case of Yuriage was the starting point whilst in the phase of design what was learned and designed there was transferred to the Dutch city of Vlissingen.

Results research group

Hooimeijer, F., Bricker, J., & Iuchi, K. (2018). An interdisciplinary approach to urban reconstruction after the 2011 tsunami.

Read it @ TU Delft Delta Links


Results project group

The proposals for Vlissingen were elaborated on by the interdisciplinary project group in an iterative approach in which they would develop their part separately and bring it together again in two steps.

This resulted in a final paper read it @ the repository TUD.


Results thesis group

In addition to the big picture and detailed designs for Vlissingen, the group of MSc thesis students developed their individual thesis that addressed disciplinary topics in detail but in the context of the other disciplines.

[Urbanism] Nasiem Vafa
To make the tsunami reconstruction of prefecture of Tohoku more resilient, the Dutch approach of Regional Design is tested. This approach balances out the local qualities on the larger scale and reinforces them on the smaller scale. For this scale three urban designs are made, for a tsunami mitigating riverbed, renewable energy plan and the development of a Transit Oriented Design location, or TOD.

Link to project @ the TUD repository

[Transport] Robert Möhring
The TOD is part of the transport and planning thesis in which a regional transport design is made to respond to demographic changes of a shrinking and aging society. Using a demand, transport and land use feedback circle the design also integrates land use planning into the transport system with the goal to be able to face an uncertain future with economic, social, and environmental shifts.

Link to the project @ the TUD repository

[Geo Engineering] Mustaqim
The geo engineering project focussed on the stability of geotextile reinforced-slope with Yuriage raised area as the case study. Two methods were used for analysis, first using Limit Equilibrium Method and second using Finite Element method. In Japan, a lot of concrete is used and the application of geotextile could make these spaces less steep and multifunctional for ecological and recreational use. Application of geotextile has been proven safe during the 2011 earthquake.

Link to the project @ TUD repository

[Urbanism] Jesse Dobbelsteen
The geotextile is also applied in the Urbanism thesis, which takes the reconstruction of Yuriage to the level of Modern Urban Renewal. This includes topics of water management and energy and includes the introduction of spatial quality.

Link to the project @ TUD repository

[Transport] Marieke van Dijk
To be able to qualitatively assess the tsunami resiliency of a transport system the first step is to decompose this concept into determining factors of tsunami resilience. This forms an assessment matrix that is also tested on Oahu, the most urban Hawaiian island.

Link to the project @ TUD repository

[Hydraulic engineering] Tony Glasbergen
The last project uses hydraulic engineering experiments and simulations of tsunami shoaling and runup, to optimize the effectiveness of coastal dikes and seawalls in mitigating tsunami damage.

Link to the project @ TUD repository