World Architecture Festival 2017 – The Chinese University of Hong Kong won the World Building of the Year Award with the post-earthquake reconstruction and demonstration project for the Guangming village in Yunnan, China, which was mostly destroyed by a deadly 6.1 magnitude earthquake.
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Initially villagers chose to build brick–concrete houses during the reconstruction period. However, the price of building materials rapidly increased and became unaffordable for most local villagers. “Our proposal innovates the traditional rammed-earth building technology to provide villagers with a safe, economical, comfortable, and sustainable reconstruction strategy that they could afford, own, and pass on to their children”.
A prototype house was built for an aged couple to validate the technology and building performance of the innovative rammed-earth building system. The design provides a comfortable environment by integrating living and semi-outdoor spaces with double-glazed windows and an insulated roof.
The building’s seismic performance was improved by adjusting the components of the wall with clay, sand, grass and other available materials. Steel bars and concrete belts are hidden in the walls to improve structural integrity and to avoid vertical cracking.
“The architects succeeded in translating ‘four walls and a roof’ into something which, through architectural commitment, becomes a project that is much more profound,” WAF Programme Director Paul Finch commented. “This building is a demonstration that architecture is just as relevant in the poorest of communities as it is in the richest.”
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The project applied a 3L strategy: local technology, local materials, and local labor. The result has a low environmental impact and it is affordable as it doesn’t require complex operating costs but simple tools, available materials and local manpower.
All photos: courtesy of World Architecture Festival.