Terra Centre

Category B-3 Honorable Mention

Category B-3: Public Amenity Institutional Buildings
Honorable Mention

Award credit: Edward Ng
Location: Kunming, China
Photography: Wang CE/Arch-Radial Images

Terra Centre is the result of a collaboration between the architects (team One University One Village (1U1V) ) and Kunming University of Science and Technology (KUST), Yunnan Province, China, and provides an opportunity to improve  construction technology and seismic performance of earth constructions in southwest rural China. Located on the university’s campus, the center—which is funded by Chan Cheung Mun Chung Charitable Fund—provides a location to carry out the long-term training of artisans, creates a space for conducting experiments, research, and practical study, and enables the reveal and display of technologies and achievements of new seismic earth constructions within a conducive environment, to further research and studies. 

Integrated with semi-outdoor spaces to provide a comfortable and artistic environment for its users, the center also uses passive design—natural daylighting, natural ventilation, thermal mass, and shading—to create an optimal interior climate with low operating energy consumption. This conscious approach also extends to materials. All the materials used in the wall are natural materials such as raw earth, gravel, and sand. No industrial stabilizers, such as cement, was added in the earth wall, which is 100 percent recyclable, degradable, and pollution free. The benefits of these walls are twofold, as results from several mechanical property tests and shaking table tests corroborate that the seismic performance of the rammed-earth building has been significantly improved, thereby successfully meeting the standards of local seismic codes.  

Terra Centre is not only a building, but also a research and education tool. Innovative technologies have ensured the safety of the rammed-earth building by improving and enhancing traditional technology with simple materials and tools. Local villagers were employed and trained to build the Terra Centre, in the process also leaving them with valuable experience in this area that can potentially convert into a future income stream. The project has also helped to rebuild villager's psychosocial well-being, core values, and sense of belonging. Terra Centre presents an appropriated solution for local reconstruction, providing references for national rural construction policies and earth building seismic standards.