No matter how beautiful architecture can be, the forces of nature can instantly reduce even the most majestic buildings to rubble. Architects thus have an obligation to create designs that are not only visually impressive but also resistant to unexpected calamities, potentially saving the lives of those living in these structures. Think earthquakes, for example.
Japanese company Muji is one of the groups brainstorming the question of earthquake-resistant houses and has introduced a single-story wooden house in the Yamaguchi prefecture built around the concept. Images of the structure show a holistic living environment that is fully insulated and offers large entries into the house, making movement unrestricted. It's as beautiful as it is durable.
Pleasantly malleable — The single-story abode has a terrace, garden, and airy rooms. Muji's house is open. There are no rigid separations or divisions like you may notice in the average modern house. By relying on an open face for the house, Muji architects emphasize architectural flexibility and instant adaptability. Your working and living habits are not dependent on or inhibited by austere lines and cuts in the house. The house sprawls 1,096 square feet, is mostly wooden, offers an airy environment during the summer, flexible dining units, and is priced at a little over 19 million yen. That's $182,000.
Here's a look inside the house.
Another look from within.
Muji explains the openness, "The sash on the terrace side adopts a full opening type that can pull in all the shoji. There is no step between the room and the wooden deck, so you can go back and forth smoothly."
What makes it earthquake-resistant? — Now, the big question. Powerful earthquakes exert a humongous deal of horizontal pressure on houses and buildings. That pressure can cause these structures to collapse. In order to mitigate the effect of these shockwaves on architecture, engineers reinforce the structural integrity of these earthquake-resistant houses to withstand the jolts and tremors. Such houses are built on flexible or dampened foundations, isolating the top of the unit from the base. This helps the house absorb seismic waves, limiting their travel through the construction.
It's an entire field of study and engineering carried out by architects in regions that are exposed to earthquakes and even tsunamis. Just like the Yamaguchi prefecture. Sound interesting? If you're in town, you can view the house by making a reservation here.