During our architecture school last summer when we constructed the bee house in Kiwanosato village, Mr. Fukuda, a trained plasterer, ran a series of workshops to demonstrate the traditional Japanese building technique called Hanchiku (rammed earth). Constructing the foundations and structure of the building from locally sourced bamboo, the plaster applied to the walls was made from a mix of clay and rice straw combined by the feet of the attendees.
Mr. Fukuda was part of the technical team that built Anyooji 安養寺 (Kengo Kuma and Associates) in Toyora, Shimonoseki City, Japan and made many of the building’s 60cm x 30cm sized mud bricks in his home workhouse. When allowed to air dry, these bricks provide the structure with a natural aeration, protecting the 12th century wooden seated statue of Amida Buddha without the need of air conditioners. When laid into the structure, the gaps between the bricks, as designed by the architect Mr. Kengo Kuma, introduce natural light into the building.
During a recent conversation, Mr. Fukuda mentioned how busy he has been over the past few months as the Hanchiku technique has become more popular. He has a number of building sites he is now working on and he has been asked to demonstrate the method to local architects and architectural students since our school last year.
“Is everything positive around you, then? ”, I asked.
“Oh yes, I am back on the truck!”, he said.
Practicing the Hanchiku technique during the 2019 Kiwanosato Architecture School.
Hanchiku applied to Kiwanosato’s bee house.