Civil engineers often face the challenging task of providing adequate lighting and ventilation in buildings while also maintaining design aesthetics and structural integrity. When you add building sustainability into the mix, it turns out to be a huge hurdle to overcome. Engineers in Japan hope to solve this dilemma with a simple but iconic design of square blocks.
After showing off their creativity in recycling precious metals during the recently concluded Olympic Games, engineers in Japan have added another feather to their hat with their new patent for an earthquake-resistant block wall. Designers Kengo Kuma and Associates have been commissioned to design a nursery building for children. They have collaborated with the Structural Planning Laboratory of Kozo Keikaku Engineering Inc. , which calls for “building for a wise future.”
The team switched to Cross-Laminated Timber (CLT), which is laminated like plywood but with thicker components. Unlike traditional concrete-based construction which is a major contributor to carbon emissions, CLT is a renewable resource and results in zero carbon emissions during production. In 2019, engineers in Norway built a 280-foot (85.4 m) skyscraper using this material.
But rather than a block of panels, the designers wanted the kids to connect with the light and breeze while they spend their time in this wooden architecture. Therefore, they created the Japanese “ichimatsu” for a chessboard design where “the warmth of the wood” can be felt but the ventilation and lighting inside the structure are not compromised.
To reinforce the construction and make it earthquake-resistant, the team used steel plates and tow bolts, according to a press release. The engineering team also verified the construction by performing extensive mechanical testing of the wall structure.
The construction of the kindergarten was completed in March 2021, and a patent application was submitted for its design. The company hopes its design will inspire more engineers to build sustainable structures.
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