Mobile Off-grid Architecture. A potential tool for the resilience of rural communities in the event of natural disasters


  • Shota Tajima Chiba University (Japan)
  • Satoko Nasu Chiba University (Japan)



off-grid architecture, community resilience, energy efficiency, regional revitalization, design thinking


The paper illustrates a study conducted for the town of Nagara in Japan to test the use of mobile off-grid architecture (MOA) in support of the resilience that rural communities are expected to acquire by 2050. In order to cope with the effects of climate change that have severely affected human lives and natural ecosystems, to counter population ageing, migration to larger urban centres and the inefficiency of outdated infrastructure, Japan’s rural areas need to increase their resilience to ensure human continuity in their territories. In this context, the authors propose a MOA solution developed on the basis of literature review and a questionnaire to manufactures and local government, using a deductive approach to determine its feasibility. The results of the experimental project suggest that the MOA could be used for various purposes, including social education and rural community development, although the feasibility has yet to be confirmed in relation to the critical issues represented by the weight and cost of mobile architecture.


Download data is not yet available.

Article Metrics Graph

Author Biographies

Shota Tajima, Chiba University (Japan)

PhD, he is a Full Assistant Professor at the Graduate School of Global and Transdisciplinary Studies. He participated in the Solar Decathlon 2012 and 2014 as the Japan Team Leader. His research interest is sustainable development of rural areas. He is also a regional revitalization Advisor in Nagara.

Satoko Nasu, Chiba University (Japan)

PhD Candidate at the Department of Urban Environment Systems. During graduate school, she participated in the Solar Decathlon 2012 and 2014 as a Member of the Japan Team and managed the team’s electrical energy system. Her research interests include energy balance between housing and rural communities.


Azzam, R., AbdelGhaffar, A., Kesseiba, K. and El-Husseiny, M.-A. (2019), “Adattare l’architettura per le emergenze umanitarie alle campagne di sensibilizzazione per i bambini di strada | Adapting humanitarian emergency architecture for street children outreach campaigns”, in Agathón | International Journal of Architecture, Art and Design, vol. 6, pp. 200-209. [Online] Available at: [Accessed 10 July 2020].

CRIC – Chibagin Research Institute Corporation (2020), Efforts and future agenda for the disaster prevention support and risk reduction in Chiba Prefecture. [Online] Available at: [Accessed 28 October 2020].

De Giovanni, G. (2018), “Emergenza sanitaria e temporaneità | Health emergency and impermanence”, in Agathón | International Journal of Architecture, Art and Design, vol. 4, pp. 13-20. [Online] Available at: [Accessed 10 July 2020].

Dorst, K. (2011), “The core of ‘design thinking’ and its application”, in Design Studies, vol. 32, issue 6, pp. 521-532. [Online] Available at: [Accessed 25 October 2020].

Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy (2016), Renewable Energy Sources in Figures – National and International Development, 2016. [Online] Available at: [Accessed 17 September 2020].

Feldhoff, T. (2013), “Shrinking communities in Japan – Community ownership of assets as a development potential for rural Japan?”, in Urban Design International, vol. 18, pp. 99-109. [Online] Available at: [Accessed 30 October 2020].

Government of Japan – Cabinet Office (2019), Regional Revitalization Paves the Way for the Future of Japan. [Online] Available at: [Accessed 24 October 2020].

Government of Japan – Cabinet Office (2018), Disaster Management, 2018 – White Paper. [Online] Available at: [Accessed 24 October 2020].

IEA – International Energy Agency (2014), Technology Roadmap Solar Photovoltaic Energy – 2014 edition. [Online] Available at: TechnologyRoadmapSolarPhotovoltaicEnergy_2014.pdf [Accessed 17 September 2020].

IPCC – Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (2014), Climate Change 2014 – Synthesis Report – Contribution of Working Groups I, II and III to the Fifth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. [Online] Available at: [Accessed 23 September 2020].

IRENA – International Renewable Energy Agency (2018), Off-grid Renewable Energy Solutions – Global and regional status and trends. [Online] Available at: [Accessed 1st July 2020].

IRENA – International Renewable Energy Agency (2016), The Power to Change – Solar and Wind Cost Reduction Potential to 2025. [Online] Available at: IRENA_Power_to_Change_2016.pdf [Accessed 28 September 2020].

Japan Meteorological Agency (2020), Carbon dioxide (CO2). [Online] Available at: [Accessed 30 September 2020].

Mayunga, S. J. (2007), Understanding and Applying the Concept of Community Disaster Resilience – A Capital-based Approach, A draft working paper prepared for the summer academy for social vulnerability and resilience building. [Online] Available at: 514b53bcb4025aaf9a6781047e4a66/mi_blog/r/11._Joseph_S._Mayunga.pdf [Accessed 1st March 2020].

Okoso, M. (2013), Community planning for tourism by local platform, Gakugei Shuppan-Sha, Kyoto.

Pentland, A. (2014), Social Physics – How social networks can make us smarter, The Penguin Press, New York.

Ruggiero, R. (2018), “La città dell’attesa, tra emergenza e ricostruzione | Temporary city between emergency and recovery”, in Agathón | International Journal of Architecture, Art and Design, vol. 4, pp. 145-152. [Online] Available at: [Accessed 1st November 2020].

Steiner, A., Espinosa, P. and Glasser, R. (2015), Op-ed – Climate change is a threat to rich and poor alike. [Online] Available at: [Accessed 27 September 2020].

Tajima, S. and Nasu, S. (2020), “Proposal for an Off-Grid Mobile Architecture Prototype for Disaster Relief”, in Cheng, C., Vallerand, O., Nubani, L., Ruggeri, D. and Bernasconi, C. (eds), Proceedings of the 51th Environmental Design Research Association Conference, EDRA51, p. 189. [Online] Available at: toc/edra51_content.pdf [Accessed 6 November 2020].

Tajima, S., Okada, S. and Kawase, T. (2015), “Efforts of Chiba University team to the Solar Decathlon Europe 2014 – Development of Net-Zero-Energy and prefabrication house”, in AIJ Journal of Technology and Design, vol. 21, n. 48, pp. 735-740. [Online] Available at: [Accessed 25 September 2020].

Teo, M. M., Goonetilleke, A. and Ziyath, A. M. (2015), “An integrated framework for assessing community resilience in disaster management”, in Barnes, P. H. and Goonetilleke, A. (eds), Proceedings of the 9th Annual International Conference of the International Institute for Infrastructure Renewal and Reconstruction – 8-11 July 2013, Queensland University of Technology, Brisbane, Queensland, QUT, Brisbane, pp. 309-314. [Online] Available at: for_assessing_community_resili-ence_in_disaster_management.pdf [Accessed 16 July 2020].

United Nations – Department of Economic and Social Affairs – Population Division (2019), World Urbanization Prospects 2018 – Highlights. [Online] Available at: [Accessed 28 October 2020].

Verderber, S. (2008), “Emergency housing in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina: an assessment of the FEMA travel trailer program”, in Journal of Housing and the Built Environment, vol. 23, article 367, pp. 367-381. [Online] Available at: [Accessed 28 October 2020].

Wada, T., Sugano, S. Tokuyama, M. and Nagao, M. (2009), Local Brand and Management, Yuhikaku, Tokyo.

Wisner, B., Blaikie, P., Cannon, T. and Davis, I. (2004), At Risk – Natural Hazards, People’s Vulnerability and Disasters, Routledge, US.

Conceptual image of EcoCabin (credit: S. Tajima, 2020). AGATHÓN 08 | 2020




How to Cite

Tajima, S. and Nasu, S. (2020) “Mobile Off-grid Architecture. A potential tool for the resilience of rural communities in the event of natural disasters”, AGATHÓN | International Journal of Architecture, Art and Design, 8(online), pp. 118–127. doi: 10.19229/2464-9309/8112020.