Japanese architect Kengo Kuma and manufacturer Komatsu Seiren unveiled “fa-bo,” the manufacturer’s three-floor office building surrounded by hundreds of carbon fibers used to protect it from earthquakes. Japan Trends reported recently that it is the world’s first use of carbon fibers as earthquake-resistant materials. After Japan’s major tsunami in 2011, Kuma changed his approach to architecture, and the fa-bo is his first project that represents protection.
The carbon fibers root the building, which is essentially a concrete block, in its spot. The building is also surrounded by slabs of spongy ceramic material that looks like grass. The roof features a garden that relies on rainwater.
For the carbon fibers surrounding the building, Kuma used one of Komatsu Seiren’s signature products, the CABKOMA Strand Rod – a thermoplastic carbon fiber composite. According to Komatsu Serien’s website, carbon fiber acts as the rod’s interlining, while its outer layer is covered with synthetic fiber and inorganic fiber. It is finished by impregnating thermoplastic resin.
Komatsu Seiren says some of the benefits of the strand rod include high tensile strength, great aesthetic quality, a “strong structural body,” and low weight. The company claims it is lightest seismic reinforcement in the world.
“Until now I had never thought that fiber and architecture were connected,” said Kuma, “but this has shown me new possibilities for architecture.”
According to CompositesLab, part of this shift can be attributed to the molding freedom that comes with composites. The materials’ ability to take complex shapes offers designers, engineers and architects a level of design flexibility not typically found with other competing materials.