Terunobu Fujimori, a modern eccentric, with an architectural sensibility drawn from ancient Japanese traditions completed the Charred Cedar House in 2007 (cover picture).
The primitive and painstaking process of charring wood is said to protect wood against rain, rot, and insects for 80 years. It also gives the exteriors a reptilian texture that’s as striking as it is practical.
Here Fujimori demonstrates the process of charring cedar boards, he packs newspaper into the base of three planks that have been bound together. To begin the charring process, the newspaper that has been packed between the boards is set on fire. Fujimori uses a tool to coax the fire up the boards; this ensures an even charring of the wood.
Once the fire is evenly distributed across the length of the board, it is simply a matter of patience. After seven minutes, the length of time it takes to produce the proper amount of char, the boards are separated. The craftsman pours water over the boards to halt the charring process.
After the flames have been put out, the boards continue to crackle and smoke. Charring the boards properly requires a delicate balance between just enough burning, but not too much.
In Fujimori’s most recent project, Coal House, a tearoom protrudes from the second story, accessible from the exterior by a timber ladder that appears to pierce the roof and from the interior by a secret door in the master bedroom.
Inside the tiny tearoom, with its low ceiling, is like an adult clubhouse, designed for intimate conversation over hot drinks. The climb to the Coal House tea room is purposely precarious. Fujimori wants visitors to “be a little afraid” on their way up; it’s “a device to make you feel and think differently in this space.”
Fujimori also designed his own residence, the Tanpopo House, in 1995, with volcanic rock siding and grass and dandelions on the roof and walls; he is pleased by its “bushy-haired expression.”
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Read about another project, found at Dezeen