World’s First Earthquake Resistant Building
This concrete building may look like its draped in a transparent bridal veil, but its sculptural exterior serves a bigger function than just looks. Rising at three-stories of an area 2,874-square-meter, the building called ‘fa-bo’ serves as work space, exhibition and research facility for Japanese fabric manufacturer Komatsu Seiren, in Nomi city, Japan. Architect Kengo Kuma has renovated the building, recognized as the world’s first earthquake resistant building anchored to the ground with carbon fibers to provide earthquake protection.
The carbon-fiber strands, created by the client company, are made up of a thermoplastic carbon fiber composite called CABKOMA Strand Rod that’s considered the lightest seismic reinforcement in the world. “The fiber rod is said to be seven times stronger than iron, and this is the very first time that this material was used as a means of reinforcement against earthquakes,” said the studio. Drawing from a technique of braiding ropes in this region, it became possible to add further flexibility to the carbon fiber.
During the early design stages, kuma approached the scheme by developing a hybrid, carbon fiber material called ‘kotmatsu seiren’s cf rod’. Using computer technology, the positioning of each of these rods were fully calculated in prior to its fabrication to respond to the horizontal seismic force and motion from north to south, and east to west.
The carbon fiber ropes are pulled taut over a metal frame on the building’s green roof and then angled down over the facades to meet the ground.
Gaps left between the fibers, which are arranged in sections like curtains, provide entrance points to the building. These lead through to white, fabric-draped interiors.
The green roof is covered in porous panels called Green biz, a by-product of the company’s fabric production, and a lighting duct in the roof is made from carbon fiber.
Overall, kuma has turned a seemingly ordinary office block into an elegant building related to its program; visually and functionally. the rods created simultaneously act as seismic support and in turn, could open up possibilities for further earthquake reinforcement strategies in architecture.
Fa-bo is one of three new projects recently unveiled by Kuma’s Japanese architecture studio, which has offices in Tokyo and Paris. The other two are a furniture showroom and production facility with translucent undulating walls, and an “amoeba-shaped” art center clad with porous aluminum panels.
Kengo Kuma talking about the project.