What is SANU’s hut “the more you build, the more you can regenerate the environment”? EXPLORE THE BACK OF ARCHITECTURE | WORLD SOCIETY GOOD IDEAS MAGAZINE | IDEAS FOR GOOD


The city is now full of “sustainable buildings”. Commercial facilities with plants on the walls, offices with many solar panels on the roof, and restaurants that reuse old containers. The IDEAS FOR GOOD editorial office has seen many such buildings in Japan and overseas.

While I think they’re great, sometimes I’m curious. In construction projects, good aspects such as environmental performance and comfort are called for, but the sources of materials and energy at the time of construction are often not disclosed. “Wouldn’t it be more sustainable not to build new buildings, given the loss of habitat and the amount of waste generated during demolition?”──Even the thought makes you look up.

On the other hand, there are those who are working on “the more you build, the more the environment regenerates” architecture. SANU is a lifestyle brand with a philosophy of “living with nature”. We have created an original wooden house “SANU CABIN” in nature such as Yatsugatake and Shirakabako, and are developing our subscription service “SANU 2nd Home” as “another nature home”.

▶ Interview with SANU CEO Moto Fukushima: The “Second House” in the Woods.Enrich your and nature’s business by asking lifestyle brand SANU

This time, we will approach the back of this SANU CABIN structure. Faced with the massive felling of trees, opaque procurement sources, and soil pollution caused by construction, to what extent can people consider it “environmentally friendly”? We interviewed Mr. Kotaro Ansai, the representative of ADX, the architectural team that designed the cottage.

Speaker Profile: Kotaro Ansai

ADX Kotaro AnsaiADX CEO Co., Ltd. was born in Nihonmatsu City, Fukushima Prefecture in 1977. It is the third generation of the Ansai construction industry that has continued from the generation of grandfather to the present. ADX (former Life style studio) was established in 2006 with the goal of sustainable architecture that coexists with nature. Taking advantage of the properties of wood, he focuses on dynamic architecture that pursues the new possibilities of wood. He was exposed to wood from an early age and is known for his in-depth knowledge of wood and wooden construction, teaching at universities and companies in Japan and overseas as a wood creator. Rock climbing is my life’s work.

What is the environmentally friendly regeneration chamber made by ADX?

SANU hut at the southern foot of Yatsugatake

SANU CABIN at the southern foot of Yatsugatake

Mr. Anzai grew up playing in the mountains in his hometown of Fukushima. I met SANU co-founders Mr. Fukushima and Mr. Honma on another construction project and said, ““Coexist with nature. / Coexist with nature.I sympathized with the idea of ​​”creating a business that embodies”, so I got involved in the design of SANU CABIN.

Made from about 150 trees, SANU CABIN is an ancient Japanese stilt with good ventilation.Thinned timber from Kamaishi City, Iwate Prefecture(* 1) is usedSANU’s original plan also planned to plant as many trees as possible for the hut.

* 1 Timber produced by thinning dense trees during the growth of the forest. The Kamaishi Ward Forestry Association, which is the source of the procurement, has grown to about 50 to 80 years old.We are logging and sawing trees.

Q. Do you have any inspiration for your designs?

Arguably, it is most influenced by nature, not some buildings. Before building the first huts at Yatsugatake and Shirakabako, we visited nature in various regions with the two founders of SANU, actually walking dozens of places. I think it’s very rich because depending on the place, the scenery is really different, such as areas with small birds and areas with lots of trees.

That’s why the building itself is not the protagonist, but my desire to start designing the cottage is to show the rich life and natural beauty of each area.

Ansai Kotaro

Q: Please tell us about your commitment to creating an ADX style space.

One of our goals is to create a space that makes you want to take a deep breath. When you think about deep breathing scenes in your daily life, there are many times when you are at peace, like when you are with someone you are comfortable with, or when you look back on that day and find it funny today.

That’s why I don’t put anything special on it, but I’m very particular about the look, smell and texture and people can rest assured.In the design of SANU CABIN,I made it with the image that people living in the city center would be “another home” they could come back to from time to time.

an open space. Inspired by nature, the design is round rather than straight.

an open space. Inspired by nature, the design is round rather than straight.

Building buildings in the woods also means bringing in something that wasn’t originally part of nature. that’s why,Inorganic materialsI’m also conscious of using trees and soil from nature as much as possible while minimizing it. In buildings, I try to avoid using adhesives, nails and screws to connect parts.

This makes maintenance such as disassembly and replacement easy even if parts are damaged, metal can be reused even if the cabin itself is old and no longer in use, and wood is wood chips and pellets. can be replaced.

Q. I heard that a unique construction method was also developed to minimize the load on the land.

Because I want to build a building that respects natureCan be built on slopes without leveling the landIn order to adopt the “foundation pile construction method”, we have our own pile driver, which can be used even on slopes of 30°.developed. Just insert six stakes into the ground to support the building.

Typically, buildings are constructed by a method called the “solid foundation method”, but with the use of large amounts of concrete.Place the foundation directly on the entire groundThe building blocks the wind from the valley.Developed by usIn the “Foundation Pile Construction Law”By making it a stilt type, the load on the soil is reduced and the flow of wind and water does not stop.

Differences between general buildings and SANU huts

The difference between general architecture and SANU CABIN

Q. Please tell us more about how the hut works, “the more you build, the richer the environment will be”.

There are many ways to enrich the environment, but one way is to offset the CO2 emissions from building buildings and take actions that positively impact forests, and do so with positive values. isn’t it? For example, take a grown tree as material and plant a new tree. By using 70% of the building materials as wood, and planning and procuring the same number of trees as the wood used in the building, the amount of CO2 that exceeds the amount of CO2 emitted during construction is absorbed and fixed. We ask Kamaishi Regional Forestry Association, which is a source of wood, to implement a tree-planting program.

In fact, when I calculated how much CO2 would be reduced, there was an unexpectedly heavy load. While improving, the cabin design will inevitably become “considered teardown”.

If teardown is a prerequisite, some may be concerned about durability, but we’re taking appropriate steps as well. Mimicking the “honeycomb structure” of a honeycomb, the hut is lightweight and strong enough to withstand 4 meters of snow in Hakuba Village, Nagano Prefecture, which has the most snowfall in Japan.

Tips for Creating Sustainable Buildings

Q. Was there any difficulty in designing SANU CABIN?

It’s hard to find a place that isn’t difficult (laughs), and it’s especially difficult to design the entire process from lumber procurement to construction within the limited time period one year before opening. I even thought about which tree to cut down to make the forest healthy.

If it is an ordinary building,I may only be in charge of design and construction, but this project takes care of everything from design to actual construction.

Later,Based on the concept of “symbiosis with nature”Even if I do a cabin, there are some conflicts that I can’t say “the environment will definitely improve”. If we bring the tools of the city into a previously unexplored natural forest, it will inevitably change the environment of the forest.

The place where I decided to build SANU CABIN was originally not a flat place, but a slope and a bumpy land. When you try to build a building on land with a raised shape, the process is to build it first, level it, and then build a foundation.

I don’t want to modify it as naturally as possible, but sometimes I have to modify it to create a space where people can spend their time with peace of mind. That is a very difficult point.

Q: I get it… In fact, how do you see the paradox of deforestation to create sustainable buildings?

I think it’s important for us to give the utmost consideration so as not to damage the land as much as possible. Speaking of this cabin, we have determined the number and shape of all the trees on the site to be built. By cutting down this tree, sunlight enters and other trees grow, as if thinning.

SANU CABIN is not a straight and orderly arrangement, but often curved like a river. This is the result of working while avoiding trees so that cars and heavy machinery don’t enter as naturally as possible. The number of trees cut for construction is about 30%, which is the minimum. The cabin itself faces in different directions, and the views from inside are also different, because it is made according to the terrain, such as avoiding the unevenness that exists in that area.

Rather than seeing nature as something convenient for humans, we value the feeling of being disturbed by nature and living together.

Q. Do the actual construction workers on the construction site have this idea?

We all had a meeting and went on, but at first it didn’t seem hungry at all. “What’s the difference between environmentally friendly construction methods and traditional methods?”

So we decided to actually take a look at the blueprints we drew and have them assemble, pick up materials and actually feel it with their skin and let them know the difference from traditional buildings. I think you might find it more cumbersome than the construction work you’ve done so far. It’s a time-consuming method, but I think it’s better than saying “sustainability is important” and “don’t damage the environment” from above.

Building a building is a task that cannot be done alone. So if you have a desire to make buildings sustainable, it’s best to get as many people as possible to collaborate if you want to make it happen.

Cabin construction site

Cabin construction test job site

Constantly updated, more beautiful and more environmentally friendly

Yatsugatake, November 2021and birch lakeSANU built the first SANU CABIN. Now, the same design is built on Lake Kawaguchi and Lake Yamanaka. What kind of feelings did Mr. Anse convey when building cabins in various areas?

Q. Did anything change from the beginning by continuing to build the hut?

Almost all SANU CABINs undergo minor changes every time they are built.Actuallyat first and bottom base, 100 items have been changed. We made improvements while receiving feedback from SANU members, such as how to secure the screws, how to insert them, and the placement of equipment such as showers.

I think iterative updates create prettier, more comfortable, and greener buildings.A space where you want to take a deep breath every time you build a new spaceI want to achieve.

Image via Sayuri Murooka

Image via Sayuri Murooka

Q. Please tell us what you would like to challenge in the future.

From now on, I hope to change the whole construction industry little by little. In the food world, seeing the producer’s face is called “farm to table,” but its architectural version is like “forest to building.” Even in the field of architecture, by seeing the face of the creator, we can take responsibility for what we do in the field, and as users, we want to be able to use it for the long term with peace of mind.

In addition, living with forests and nature requires related populations. I want to continue creating buildings that convey the beauty of nature 100% so that different people can enjoy the forest.

Q. Finally, do you have a message for those who want to start a business to regenerate the environment?

We are consciously looking to the future 100 years from now. You might feel the change in the ecosystem in 100 years, and one of the criteria is whether the business will last 100 years.

By doing this, not only will you be able to generate short-term profits in the near future, but you will inevitably be able to see the durability, environmental performance and business growth of your buildings in complex ways.Growth from a human perspectivenot a small scaleI want to continue to work around “creating a long-span story, this is when the ecosystem works”.

Ansai Kotaro

[参考网站]ADX Co., Ltd.


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