Being no Longer Cold

There are two-storey prefabricated buildings in almost every political community of North Korea. Most of them are administration offices of the community, moreover day-care centres. In winter these houses are very cold as they are not isolated. Ideal buildings for applying the minergy technics as a pilot project! An appropriate renovation with local materials practically shows the difference it makes:

The eight-year-old administrative building in the cooperative vegetable farm of Ryokpho got a new wrapping in October. After intense planning with the two planning offices Päktusan Architecture Academy and Ryugyung Design Institute (RDI) the centre for alternative energy from Pyongyang started the renovation works together with workers of the cooperative farm.

The Päktusan Academy brought good theoretical documentations, proposals and the detailed descriptions of all the working stages for isolating the walls, the design for the block-outs for windows, etc. were furnished by the RDI thus helping the building site workers in their practical job. The workers were coating all the walls with 50-mm Sagex (polystyrene) boards. They were constructing a new roof and isolated the top ceiling which they had reinforced by a 10-cm mixture of cement and ashes before mounting the wooden roof structure. The roof is covered with metal boards. Now everything is in new brilliance and waterproof again.

All the windows were replaced. For the north side well-priced sliding windows were chosen, which can be used for ventilation in summer and be sealed up for winter time in order to improve isolation and airtightness. This system is a pragmatic minergy solution for the stair case and the corridor, as well as a compromise to local possibilities, costs, energy saving and comforts.

For the south side a local window manufacturer furnished wooden double glazing and threefold plastic windows in order to check and compare the latest technology (according to German window standards).

The outdoor job is finished so that the indoor job in the protected building can start. For the water heating two solar heat modules from the new Pyongyang solar heat factory are planned.

Unfortunately we are not yet able to print photos of the building – however, we are very happy about this well realised project.

Reference Book Just Printed

With enthusiasm we are holding in our hands a copy of the new reference book just printed.

For five years Agape international has been teaching know-how about energy saving constructions in North Korea. More than 100 local experts were introduced in this subject, among them architects, planners, heating and material specialists as well as members of the building control. The acquired knowledge of two workshops lead by Werner Hässig, master of architecture (Sustech GmbH), the knowledge from two study trips, one to China and one to Europe, and much information from further sources are the result of the first North Korean reference book published in mid-October 2013 by the Pyongyang Alternative Energy Centre. Mr Jang, our project manager, is one of the three authors. We are filled with enthusiasm for the interdisciplinary and interorganisational collaboration.

This publication will be registered in the E-Library System during the weeks to come. As a printed reference book of 140 pages it will be distributed to the most important specialised organisations and the leaders of North Korea. We are happy to contribute to the diffusion of new knowledge to people in North Korea.

Winter Time in North Korea

People living in the midlands of Switzerland are suffering sometimes from the numerous foggy days in winter. If only the sun would shine again!

North Korea is quite different: The sun is shining there during many days, from the early morning to sunset. The sky is deep blue. The more one goes north the more icy and windy days one can experience. After the intense monsoon rains in summer it rains or snows very rarely. All the green plants are dried and frozen. Tourists from abroad sometimes are astonished because of the brown landscapes. However, it is quite normal for this region!

Now people can profit from the harvests in summer and autumn. Are there enough provisions for the long winter season until the new harvest is ready?

For the household people tradionally conserve cabbage seasoned with much chili, but also many other kinds of different vegetables: radish green, leek, and onions, pumpkins, and maize are dried. It is a challenge to prevent potatoes from freezing. In the very northern part of Korea the soil gets frozen until a depth of one meter, so there is an urgent need of isolated warehouses or cellars.

The children do not bother so much – they go to school in the morning with thick layers of cloths on and slide, during their spare time, on their „sledges“ over the (r)ice fields. Movement produces warmth. In the houses it is not as warm as we Europeans are used to. Small houses as there are in the countryside or in the outskirts of the towns are heated from the kitchen: The smoke of the fire for cooking is lead under the soil of the living room before leaving the house through the chimney. So the soil is warmed comfortably. Most of the housing blocks have an electric soil heating which should produce enough warmth. Because of the lack of energy the flats stay uncomfortably cold. Electric bed covers are the solution. They do not need so much energy.

Those who can see the beauties of the landscape are dazzled again and again about the different shades of brown of the numerous hills, about a Korean roof forming a harmonic curve, about the different colours of the ice …

What you can do

That is how you can help us support people in North Korea:

Help us finance e.g. …

Hot water collectors for the first orphanage in Hamhung. A solar collector produced in the country costs about 700 SFr. We are discussing the first offer and the primary project with a North Korean firm.

The machinery of a little workshop for the production of small windmills for individual households (300 W).

Study trips – within the next months another workshop with Werner Hässig, m. of arch., of the Sustech GmbH is planned.

Thank you so much for your contribution!

[Agape international, Northkorea, December 2013, our heart’s concern, Energy efficient construction, renewable energy, ]