温泉 for 昆布,ニセコ
(Onsen for Konbu Niseko)
Only 13% of the energy in Japan is renewable and only 2% of which is geothermal. Geothermal energy has vast potential in Japan yet has not been gaining much traction or attention. One way to bring attention towards geothermal energy is onsens. This onsen would attract visitors and raise awareness on the potential of geothermal energy and how even an individual can help through ways such as residential geothermal instalments. This project would tackle UN’s sustainable goals number 7 and 13
What is an 温泉 (Onsen)
Onsen means hot spring in Japanese, or in other words, a bath where the water has been heated by the earth. Onsens are public baths separated by gender and have historically been places of relaxation and serenity. They are a perfect attraction to raise awareness and educate on geothermal energy. The following is an interview with my former AP Japanese teacher, apologies for being cut out of the frame.
What is Geothermal Energy?
Geothermal Energy is a form of renewable energy harvesting the earths natural heat. It does not create any pollutants, has relatively low matienance, and produces a respectable net energy yield. unfortunately high underground heat levels are required, luckily Japan is located on the ring of fire. Recently advancements have been made by companies such as Climeon making geothermal energy more accessible. The following is an interview with my AP Environmental Science teacher.
Niseko is one of the most popular ski destinations in Japan attracting over 2 million visitors each year. Kombu, Niseko is a fairly central station in proximity to major ski hills. The site is only a 5 minute walk from the station and other hotels and hostels. The whole region is very mountainous and surrounded by Shirakaba trees (Japanese white birch).
The lot is empty with an abandoned building, there is one small house on the other end of the property which I decided to remove just for more space. Abandoned buildings are very common and these spaces should be made use of.
As you can see below, the site itself is located on the base of a mountain. This embeds the project in a nature filled environment which can be taken advantage of by facing the windows in that direction. The plot has an odd almost triangular shaped which proved as an interesting challenge when designing the layout.
Here I will display the process in which I took to reach my final design.
3D Model Development
The first rendition of my sketchup model is on my left. I began by only designing the main building and figuring out the shapes and proportions. I also fleshed out the interior and shaped the basement. The model on the right shows my first rendition of the bathhouse. This positioning and shape can also be seen in early floorpans. The shape and positioning was then changed.
Floor plan Development
My floor plan has gone through 4 different versions. When first deciding how to fit a structure into my odd shaped site I drew up the sketch on the left. Later I decided to switch the location of the bathhouse and the main building. The second floor plan shows that change however the shape of the main building would waste site space in the top left.
My third floor plan on the left shows the indoor layout. It shows where the stairs and other indoor features are located. On the right the floor plan changed by repositioning the bathhouse, including the sub-floor and being done digitally. There were also major changes from my fourth to final floor plan upon feedback from peers and teachers.
Sketches are very important in this project to get across details about landscaping and exterior designs that I could not achieve in sketchup. Below you can see how my first two sketches match up with the forms in my predesign floor-plans and 3D models.
The final design that I have come to optimises the clients exposure to information on geothermal energy, takes them on a journey through the project, and allows for relaxation.
Floor plan/ Interior
When you enter the building you are greeted by an entrance separate from the main building. Following that is the (gen-kan) or mudroom. It is very common in Japanese buildings to take of your shoes and traverse the building in your socks. The elevator and restrooms are located near the entrance tucked away in the bottom left. As you turn you have the option to either continue down the hall to reception or to head down to the sub-floor to learn about geothermal energy. Turning again and going down a set of stairs there is more information on geothermal energy and slippers available to walk on the paths outdoors leading to the bathhouse itself.
Sub Floor: Geothermal Energy Education
The primary focus of the subfloor will be a space where people can learn about how geothermal energy works, new developments and how they can use geothermal energy. couches and information tables would fill the centre of the room although they are not depicted in the sketch. This is to provide a clear view of the space and details on the the walls. The wall to the left will showcase new compact geothermal energy such as Climeon’s, a renewable energy company, compact geothermal plants as an example. There will also be a video playing explaining the need for geothermal and further describing it. Finally the space would encourage viewers to consider installing residential systems. The space is accessible by stairs and elevator.
This sketch depicts the outdoor courtyard surrounded by the main building and bath house. As can be seen in the sketchup model there is a deck that wraps around elevated above the pod. The walkway only allows for one route to get to the bath house creating a guided experience. The structure across from the water is the bathhouse.
Alternatively to having the entrance be directly connected to the mud room I created an entrance way that makes entering and navigating the structure more of a serene and calming experience. At the end of the entrance is an indoor terrarium surrounded by windows on two sides. Directly to the right from where the sketch is drawn is where the door would be.
The buildings interior and exterior walls will be smoothed white concrete. The material reflects natural light well, maintains indoor temperature and keeps a light colour scheme. Shirakaba white birch, the trees in surrounding forests, will be the flooring for all the main buildings and will nicely compliment the concrete. The exterior pathways will also be white birch however the extended roofing above the pathway and the overhang of the baths are dark oak. This image depicts the contrast between birch and smooth white concrete.
My 3D model in sketchup took many renditions and alterations. 3D warehouse components were not used because they slowed down my sketchup significantly.
I constructed the major shapes of the structure in a 3d model to represent the site in a different manner. The model is made out of watercolour paper, cardboard and dead basil plant stems.
Questions for You
what are some renewable energy forms that are used in your community?
what are your thoughts on geothermal energy?
How well do you think my project educated you on geothermal energy and could educate others?
would you try an onsen?
If you would like more information on geothermal energy in Japan click this link to read an essay I wrote on the topic: Japan’s Geothermal Potential_ OP ED