An anti-seismic earth house in Guangming Village built by the One University One Village (1U1V) team led by Professor Edward Yan-yung NG was awarded the World Building of the Year 2017 at the World Architecture Festival (WAF) — ‘the Oscars of Architecture’. This was the first time for an architecture team in Hong Kong to win this prestigious award.
The earth house was built in response to the Ludian earthquake in 2014, which left 617 people dead and thousands homeless. The team conducted a research on the shortfalls of traditional rammed earth buildings and formulated a new rammed-earth system. After repeated tests, they completed a 148m2 two-storey, new, rammed-earth house in four months, using local material and with the help of local workers. The construction cost of the new earth house was 600 RMB/m2, 40% less than the cost of brick-concrete buildings in the village (1,000-1,500 RMB/m2). The house is affordable and sturdy, as it stood undamaged when two subsequent earthquakes hit.
The construction of the house is supported by scientific research. It demonstrates how traditional methods can be improved to provide villagers safe, affordable, comfortable, and sustainable homes. In fact, one of the important goals of academic research is to return relevant knowledge back to the community and help the needy.