Networking Core Centers Project for the Conservation of Traditional Buildings in the Kingdom of Bhutan
For the second time this year, experts from Japan were dispatched to the Kingdom of Bhutan from November 21 to December 2 in order to survey on the conservation of rammed earth buildings in the country within the framework of the Networking Core Centers for International Cooperation in the Conservation of Cultural Heritage Project commissioned by the Agency of Cultural Affairs. The survey was conducted jointly with Bhutanese counterparts from the Division for Cultural Properties, Department of Culture, Ministry of Home and Cultural Affairs. Experts split into 2 groups to do the following works in the capital Thimphu and its suburbs:
Architectural survey group: In order to reveal the traditional techniques of rammed earth construction, multiple craftsmen were interviewed, and reinforce techniques for damaged houses, temples, and ruins with rammed earth structures were inspected and surveyed.
Structural survey group: In order to quantitatively assess the performance of structures with rammed earth walls, specimens that Bhutanese personnel had prepared ahead of time were subjected to compressive strength testing. Micro-tremors were also measured at 2 small temple buildings of rammed earth structure. Basic data were obtained for analysis of the structural properties of those buildings.
In addition to the current surveys, a workshop was conducted with Bhutanese counterparts in order to share the results of previous surveys (including prior cooperative projects involving Japanese personnel), as well as to introduce Japanese experiences for the conservation of traditional houses in Japan.
Through such activities, the Core Centers Project seeks to explore prospects for appropriate conservation of traditional buildings and continuation of building techniques and deal with the issue of improved safety in the event of an earthquake. The project also seeks to train local personnel who are responsible for preserving cultural heritage. Hopes are to further enhance cooperation by transferring basic techniques through architectural surveys and structural analysis to eager Bhutanese personnel.