Contemporary Earth architecture in Japan (TERRA magazine in Italy） 2018.03
Tono Mirai / architect
There is a long history of plastering technique in Japan. it has more than 1,300 years overseas in the same way .
Mainly It develops as "non-load bearing wall" with wooden structure because of the frequent earthquake. On the other hand, overseas earth walls in less earthquake countries are developed as "a load bearing wall". The beauty of the earth wall in Japan is characterized by sophisticated finish having various surface and color not the structural strength.
In my opinion, it can be said that the "thinness" is characteristic compared with "thickness" of overseas. Typically, the thickness of earth wall in Japanese house is about 35~75mm compared with 300~500mm in overseas.
The earth wall has the wet process. It takes cost and time. Along with the development of the modern architecture in these 50 years it is decreasing in Japan very much. It is saying the number of traditional earth wall using bamboo and earth is less than 1% in the new construction of the house. On the other hand, not only pessimism but also new wind is blowing. With the ecological consciousness after 1980s, linking Europe and USA’s earth architecture revival, the movement of new "earth house" is coming with the modern energy saving performance.
Although the less from overseas, in Japan the obligation of new energy-saving standards of the new construction of the house is scheduled for in 2020. In these streams some architects emerge that think the earth is the ideal material having the beauty, health with energy saving. Traditionally earth wall was considered in the effect of color, texture, sound and moisture control in Japan, but from now it will be made use of the heat storage using the heat of sunlight with insulation enabled in the aim of saving fuel.
I’m acting after the Great East Earthquake, believing "the new earth house" will be able to contribute to aim of reconstruction in Japan, taking the data of design, structure, and heating environment collaborating with the architect, government, and Universities, we are doing the verification with the current demonstration.
The traditional Japanese earth wall was often constructed in flat and rectangle with the wood structure, but I’m trying to make the free-form using the curved walls and ceilings as the possibility of contemporary earth architecture to aim of organic architecture in 21st century, having life, metamorphose and movement. It will be correspondent with human’s spirit and environment. The earth and lime plaster wall is connecting to the sky and the ground, human skin and spirits deserve to be the word "third skin" that it is said in Baubiologie. As for the comfort, any other material is not comparable. A sacred place will be born in the house at time when sunlight will come to the wall united with human life.
The Sophistication and craft of the Japanese earth wall is noteworthy in the world, but it cannot be said enough introduction have been presented to overseas yet because of the distance of physical meaning and language. I’m very pleased if I could support to appeal the possibility of the Japanese earth and plaster techniques and design to the world.