international contribution

Aiming at ‘fundamental architecture’

Currently our planet Earth is facing a crisis due to various environmental issues. In such a situation, in order to establish a sustainable society, one important issue is the development of an architecture that is considerate of nature. We must strive to create architecture with a smaller environmental load and various aspects of ‘naturalness.’ Concretely, we have been working to envision a method in which natural materials such as soil, straw and stone are used as building materials, in their original form as much as possible; and to arrive at architecture utilizing non-fossil resources such as solar and geothermal energy.
Dr. Kikuma Watanabe, associate professor in KUT’s School of Systems Engineering, has been working to develop ‘earthbag architecture,’ based on the piling up of bags of earth to make buildings in various places around the world. This is a simple method in which local soil is put in bags to make building blocks which can be piled up to make buildings, and returned to the earth after the building has reached the end of its usefulness. This ‘natural architecture’ with small environmental load has been drawing attention internationally.
Besides earthbag architecture, Dr. Watanabe is continuing research and development for ‘passive solar houses.’ The passive solar system is a technology for capturing and transferring solar energy (heat and light) in a building as efficiently as possible by means of a combination of outer insulation, ventilation, and control of the size and orientation of the capture opening, obtaining a very comfortable thermal environment throughout the year.
A significant characteristic of both earthbag architecture and passive solar housing is smaller environmental load; this has attracted attention internationally. However, in the course of mastering these architectural techniques, implementing them in various regions around the world, and reframing them for each application, it became apparent that such architecture has potential at the fundamental level of architecture, which cannot be assessed in terms of environmental load alone.