Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Really Awesome Renewable Wood Facades in Architecture

I think plain old fashion wood might be the sustainable product to keep an eye on in 2017. Addressing it's drawbacks first: Sources of quality sustainable wood are still very much constrained, especially since ideally the wood would be sourced locally to reduce its carbon footprint. Secondly, modern fire safety standards complicate the use of wood somewhat as its range of applications expand to which I have no good counter at the moment. It has one amazing quality though; it's renewable. And when your major building material is renewable (besides being sustainable) it triggers all sorts of positive economic feedback. Assuming a somewhat stable rate of building, one's main building material will be under deflationary pressures, which in turn can stimulate more building. Wonderful stuff.

Before readers need stumble into the archives of my blog I'll just come out and remind that I lived in Japan for four years. This greatly informed my appreciation of wood in architecture and that's probably how two Japanese architects ended up being focused on. Kengo Kuma's SunnyHills development in Minami-Aoyama, Tokyo and Shigeru Ban's Aspen Art Museum each show this absolutely unhinged imagination in their approach to the material (refer to end of post). One might need to look at the interior shots of the Aspen Art Museum carefully to fully appreciate how deeply Shigeru Ban was able penetrate the design with wood. Amazing. If the Aspen Art Museum donors were trying say anything good about wood they certainly got their money's worth.

The Europa Building in Brussels where the European Council sits has some very unique features. Designed by the eccentric sounding Dr. Ir Philippe Samyn, also of Brussels, this amazing expansion definitely has a viewpoint to express. I never tire of the above view of the building. Some might say that in creating such a strong contrast with the existing building it limits the unity of the whole. But at the same time what the structure gives up in unity it makes up for in honesty. "It's the 21st. We're modern." The facade pattern is enchanting, somehow referencing mathematical fractals and millions of mismatched wooden framed windows – at least to my eye.

If you'd like to know more consider following @TheJoinery_jp. Some people might already be familiar with the account but essentially it's an absolutely top-notch encyclopedic twitter feed about Japanese wood joinery which is absolutely mesmerizing.

A photo posted by _sauerkraut (@_sauerkraut) on

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