Wednesday, April 2, 2003

Building Materials

Architects Vinayak Bharne & Iku Shimomura discuss Japanese architecture, wood and transience.

"... in Japan where the forest was as ubiquitous as the breeze, it was natural that wood rather than stone or earth was the secular and sacred building material. The abundance of trees on the seismic archipelago coupled with the philosophical and religious notions of the culture engendered a unique receptivity towards timber ... Almost every building type, be it a house, shrine, temple or castle used wood as its major structural material bearing the extremes of a humid summer to a dry winter, and of typhoons and fires and earthquakes. It was amidst these arduous and sensitive rhythms that evolved Japan's culture of wood ... The contrast between Japan's culture of wood and the timber traditions of the West could be summed up in the Japanese notion of Setsuna, meaning transience. It imparted to wood the same materiality of life and death as at the heart of human consciousness, translating in the Japanese resistance to nails, thereby not hurting wood or wooden components. On another plane the notion manifested the inevitable tolerance at the wooden susceptibility to fire, moisture and harsh weather. It was this philosophical and pragmatic resultant that brought forth a distinctly Japanese attitude to wood and its use."

[via plep]

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