Albizia project catalyzes multi-campus collaboration

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By Joey Valenti, recipient Presidentʻs Green Project Implementation Award

Upon completion of the D.Arch degree in May, I was offered a full time position at UH Mānoa School of Architecture. This support and the UH President’s Green Project Implementation Award has allowed me to continue my research on albizia as a material for building resourcefully and sustainably in Hawaiʻi.

To explore this potential, I have been testing and developing the design and technology for building a prototype of my proposed small-scale housing unit. Combined field work and applied research has helped to open doors between disciplines in the academic and professional community.

I traveled to Kauaʻi in July to study projects that are utilizing invasive tree species for green energy and construction. I visited the Biomass-to-Energy (BTE) plant by Green Energy Team and assisted in building a sustainable tiny house with Kauaʻi CC Carpentry. At UH Mānoa, Dr. Ian Robertson (Professor, Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering) has assisted in structural testing the engineered albizia building components.

We will continue to collaborate on this as we develop the design to a level that achieves structural performance standards for construction. Further collaborative efforts stem from UH West Oʻahu public administration and social sciences divisions, where extensive work is being done on the socio-economic and disaster impacts of albizia in Hawaii. A synergistic collaboration between the UH West Oʻahu (public administration and social sciences divisions) and UH Manoa (School of Architecture) has begun to shed light on the socio-economic and disaster impacts of albizia in Hawaii — and how this invasive, life-threatening pest can be used as a community asset to promote urban resilience. For Levy, Valenti and Yu recently investigated the use of engineered albizia building components in Kakaako to promote sustainable design and reduce costs and create disaster resilent shelter.

I am working with Dr. Jason Levy (Associate Professor, Public Administration) and Dr. Ross Prizzia (Professor of Public Administration and Director of Disaster Programs) to strengthen interdisciplinary relationships across UH campuses.

We believe this synergy will prove to be very fruitful in multi-dimensional research and help to stimulate socio-ecological resilience within our communities. During the summer, I was presented with an opportunity for a team of designers and filmmakers to feature this project in a film competition. The team followed my work over the past six weeks to capture the theme of architecture as a solution.

The short film has been submitted for the American Institute of Architects (AIA) “I Look Up Film Challenge” and will be released for public viewing in early September:

[UPDATED SEPT 16, 2016]