Architects: Kengo Kuma & Associates
Location: Hokkaido Prefecture, Hiroo District, Taiki, Memu, Japan
Project Architect: Kengo Kuma, Takumi Saikawa
Client: LXIL JS Foundation
Structural Engineering: Yashushi Moribe (Showa Womden’s University)
Area: 79,5 sqm
Photographs: Courtesy of Kengo Kuma & Associates
This translucent cabin by architects Kengo Kuma and Associates is an experimental house in Hokkaidō, Japan, designed to test the limits of architecture in cold climates (+ slideshow).
Kengo Kuma and Associates were inspired by the traditional architecture of the indigenous Ainu, whose “Chise” style buildings clad with sedge or bamboo grass hold in the warmth of a central fireplace that is never allowed to burn out.
“The fundamental idea of Chise, ‘house of the earth,’ is to keep warming up the ground this way and retrieve the radiation heat generated from it,” say the architects.
The Experimental House was constructed around a coated larch frame and it has a thick layer of polyester insulation sandwiched between the polycarbonate cladding of the exterior and the glass-fibre fabric of the interior. This insulation was made using recycled plastic bottles and it allows light to pass into the house through the walls.
“Without relying on any lighting system, you simply get up when it gets light, and sleep after dark – we expect this membrane house enables you to lead a life that synchronises the rhythm of the nature,” the architects add.
As the first experimental house completed for the Meme Meadows research facility, the building will be used by the environmental technology institute to test how different factors affect the thermal qualities of its construction.
The project was completed with support from the Tomonari Yashiro Laboratory at the University of Tokyo’s Institute of Industrial Science.