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AQ Group’s vision for Japan’s construction industry: Reshaping the urban landscape with wood

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Article - February 26, 2024

AQ Group’s pioneering wooden constructions and disaster resilience are helping drive its international expansion.

EIGHT-STORY PURE WOODEN BUILDING

While the sustainability revolution can involve the creation of new, green technologies, often traditional techniques can be harnessed to lower the environmental impact of an industry’s processes.

One of the companies using traditional techniques and materials is Japan’s AQ Group, which specializes in the construction of wooden-framed buildings. Founded in 1978, the company’s flagship product is its Aqura Home, a custom-built home that offers free design and comprehensive care services from exterior to interior and equipment. These homes undergo rigorous testing against earthquakes and other natural disasters while emphasizing functionality and livability by not increasing the number of walls or making rooms more compact, as is often done in Japan.

Aqura homes are tested to withstand earthquakes of magnitude 9.0 or greater and can continue to be lived in even after a major earthquake strikes. Company president Toshiya Miyazawa explains: “We are working to provide homes that are not only durable and disaster-resistant, but also energy-efficient, spacious, and more comfortable living environments.”

The homes can also incorporate AQ Group’s original whole-house air conditioning system Takumi Air Conditioning that employs advanced proprietary technology, staying comfortable all year and saving residents energy costs. Buyers can also customize Aqura homes to meet their individual needs, such as changing the size of rooms as their lives change.

This combination of traditional and modern techniques is also seen in AQ Group’s joint research and development with Professor Masahiro Inayama of the University of Tokyo. The R&D work has made the construction of an eight-story wooden building possible, continuing Japan’s rich history of wooden structures. Not only does AQ Group work with wooden structures, it has the technical capability to design and construct wooden houses without incorporating metal into the wood. The company is actively seeking partnerships with engineers and researchers around the world to facilitate further technical R&D exchanges.

In 2021, AQ Group established its first overseas office in Vietnam, and this base is currently focused on absorbing and introducing its original technologies. This expansion abroad is underpinned by the company’s belief that its construction methods can be applied internationally in the future to offer low-cost housing. As Mr. Miyazawa says: “This approach will lead to very efficient and cost-effective housing construction, as we can use pre-cut fabrication plants to manufacture columns and beams.”

The company is dedicated to its mission of transforming Japan’s “concrete jungle” into a skyline dominated by wooden structures and then taking its technologies around the world to improve industry standards. It aims to do this by combining the structure and standards of post-and-beam construction with Japan's superior pre-cut technology. As Mr. Miyazawa says: “The overarching vision of AQ Group is to question the conventional way of doing things and to create a richer quality of life.”

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