Had a successful sweet potato harvest. We’re raising a couple of chicks in our research studio.
November 30 and December 1 visited Brown’s Field , a health and sustainabililty center in Chiba-Prefecture. Peter Buley, an American friend I met at Yestermorrow Design/Build School in Vermont, is building a tree house at Brown’s Field. http://www.brownsfield-jp.com/brownsfield.htm
I slept in a tree house that was built previously. We visited a home being renovated with natural materials near by. Peter helped with much of work on this home as well. The home features rammed earth walls, light-straw-clay walls, and cordwood walls with an earth based mortar. Un-split bamboo is apparently embedded in the rammed earth walls.
The café serves fair trade coffee and vegan, organic meals, and sells various organic and fair trade goods. The café needed to move from its previous location and wanted to use straw bales in its new interior. There were a total of 10 workshops in which well over 100 people participated, children and adults alike.
This is what the site looked like on May 1.
On June 14 and 15, Café Slow held an opening party.
At the entrance of the café there is a small straw bale wall inspired by the Okinawan Henpun, a wall built just inside the entrance of homes in Okinawa to keep unwanted energies and spirits from entering the house.
We also plastered the bathrooms with Keisoudo, a commercial earthen lime, cement plaster.
Café Slow was designed by Oiwa-sensei, the architect I work with most for my research. Beginning in July we’ll be building a straw bale café in Chiba-Prefecture for Saya Takagi, a rather famous actress who’s become a back-to-the-lander. However, unlike Café Slow that uses straw bales mainly as an ornamental interior, the straw bale café in Chiba will be a post and beam structure with straw bale infill.
The second film covers contemporary Cuban agriculture. When the Soviet Union collapsed, Cuba lost most its ability to import chemical fertilizers and other agricultural chemicals. Rather suddenly, the entire country shifted to organic agriculture with an emphasis on self-sufficiency including urban agriculture.
In the second part, we listened to a presentation by Aleida Guevara, daughter of Che Guevara. She spoke mainly about politics and the Cuban medical system. As I understand it, health care is free in Cuba.
After the event, I spoke with Lisa, a friend, about the medical and health insurance systems in the US and Japan. I’ve noticed that often the hospital stays in Japan are longer than in the US, in order of magnitude. For example, Lisa also tore her ACL (anterior cruciate ligament) and had a reconstruction within the past couple of years. She spent a month in the hospital, whereas I spent one night. This may be difficult to understand, even fathom, but her entire hospital bill came to almost 400,000 yen. That’s almost $4,000. It would be difficult to spend a day in an American hospital without running up a bill larger than that. But since she, like myself, is covered by the Japanese National Health Insurance System, she paid 160,000 yen. About $1,600.
Unfortunately traditional roofing methods and materials are becoming less common. In fact, many thatch roofs are covered with metal. Notice the door of this storage building is built of earth plastered on an internal wooden frame.
Rain-screens to protect gable ends. And when not protected. Notice the wooden bars preventing a burglar from breaking in through the window are implanted in the thick earthen plaster.
On May 17, participated in an earthen plastering workshop at the straw bale milk processing plant in Kyoto-Prefecture. On May 18 I stayed with the Okunushi family (Satoru, Namiko, Shino-chan, Fumi-chan).They're renovating an old Japanese farm house. Wide concrete sink, wood fired bath, etc.On May 24 and 25, my research studio baked and sold pizzas at an art event in Fujino, a community in the mountains of Kanagawa.
Maeno-san, a doctorial student who graduates this March has taken a duel position working with the Iide town government and post-doc at Nihon University. His doctorial research dealt with developing sustainable local community energy systems utilizing mainly biomass. We visited a demonstration “green” home in Iide which utilizes radiant floor heating and a pellet boiler. Adjacent to the home is an insulated “ice house” where packed snow and perishable goods are stored. Within the ice house is a “cold exchange” coil which connects to the home’s radiant floor piping, and in summer can act as an air conditioning system.
This is an insulated storage facility, divided roughly in half, and located adjacent to several large greenhouses. Snow is packed in one half the building while perishable goods are stored in the other half. This eliminates the need for summer refrigeration.
We visited this old local timber-frame shrine. Note how the post is not anchored to the foundation stone. This allows the post to move slightly in the event of an earthquake. Traditional Japanese timber framing is categorized at 柔構造 (soft structure) in contrast to hard modern building which counters earthquakes through rigidity. Matsuda showed me some of the projects he’s worked on.