Robin Jenkins, UWC Atlantic College, class of 1992, who is design lecturer from Chelsea College of Arts, UAL, RNLI lifeboat volunteer, and Co-Founder of Atlantic Pacific, has used his design expertise to provide a lifesaving facility for Japan’s tsunami affected region and empower the local community.
Taking the form of a shipping container, Lifeboat in a Box is an unlikely but ingenious solution to a global problem, providing much-needed facilities for communities to rescue not only tsunami survivors, but also anyone in trouble at sea.
Working with the cultural organisation Future-Labo Tohoku, the 40ft shipping container, has been designed by Chelsea’s BA and MA Interior & Spatial Design students and contains a workshop for boat maintenance, changing room for crew and a custom-made lifeboat (a Rigid-Hull Inflatable Boat) designed and built by students at Atlantic College.
Lifeboat in a Box will arrive in Japan in July and will be on display to the public from 4 – 9 August at Bunkyo Gakuin University, Hongo, Tokyo. It will then be transported to Kamaishi, Iwate Prefecture and permanently installed at Nebama Bay, Kamaishi. There will be an open day in Kamaishi on Saturday 20 August. Both events will offer the public a unique opportunity to see first-hand what is needed in a lifeboat station as well as the possibilities for social transformation provided by art and design.
Once installed in Nebama Bay, Lifeboat in a Box will also be delivered with a comprehensive training package for local volunteers who will run the station. This training will include specific information about operating the boat at sea in test and emergency situations, maintaining the boat, Personal Protective Equipment and its maintenance, Basic First Aid and Navigation, Charts, Weather and tides. This will enable the community to service and run the lifeboat station as well as train others.
With the ambition to grow the service along the coastline of Japan, the local community will also be taught how to fabricate the boats. This will enable the organisation and initiative to grow on a prefecture and then national scale.
Jenkins said “This is a project that we hope to grow around the world, delivering containers and training to areas that are most vulnerable to disaster, so that when the unbearable strikes, there is something to help.”