In 2014, the Ludian earthquake struck Yunnan Province in southern China, collapsing some 12,000 homes and damaging another 30,000. The quake inspired architects at the Chinese University of Hong Kong to reimagine local building techniques for more sustainable, affordable, and safe construction.
The school subsequently built a prototype home for an aging couple in local Guangming Village, updating traditional materials and construction methods with modern know-how. Instead of turning to brick and concrete, which would have been cost prohibitive, the team adapted the original rammed-earth construction techniques used to build most of the original village to be more durable and earthquake proof by adding steel and concrete bars into the walls.
This month, the prototype home was selected as the World Building of the Year and honored at the 10th annual World Architecture Festival held in Berlin.
“The architects succeeded in translating ‘four walls and a roof’ into something which, through architectural commitment, becomes a project that is much more profound,” said WAF Program Director Paul Finch in a statement.
“This building is a demonstration that architecture is just as relevant in the poorest of communities as it is in the richest.”
See all the winners of this year’s awards here.