Mankind’s architectural beginnings were hand productions with a minimal amount of processing. They used natural materials such as earth and stone that were readily available and fashioned structures using the characteristics found in these materials. Among them, the material “wood” was of particularly interesting.
Wood is a living organism in the biological perspective, the tissue structure made of connected cells serves as a vibration (seismic) absorber, also has non-uniform characters. Wood is one of the most commonly used materials in architectural structures along with iron and concrete even today, however is it really possible to capture its unique qualities and use it appropriately? Recently, what was the direction in which Japanese wooden architecture has progressed? With the introduction of CADCAM and its advancement coupled with computerized joint design, simulation, and pre-cut technology has led to the fabrication of wood components with an accuracy of 0.1mm. But the wood exhibits non-uniform properties, how can it be viewed as just like a plastic model in the hands of today's technologists?
In this project we changed the way how we treat and handle wood. 6m long timbers were simply split in half and brought to the site. The timbers were placed in steel baseplates and raised into place not exactly facing one another. Relying on the properties of elasticity and stability and fixing the bottom at the baseplate, the top portions were twisted to meet each other and bolted in place. As a result, the stress generated inside the material was preserved and the sag typically witnessed was prevented. In order to increase the rigidity of the timbers as a material, the method of “pulling” both-ends is common, but here, the rigidity was obtained by “twisting”.
Since the establishment of pre-cut technology carpenters have come to see the construction assembly numbers printed on timbers, rather than observing the characters of wood. In this project, careful consideration of each timber was checked for the direction of twisting developing a strategy of how to handle it up, down, left and right. In addition, the grain of each ridge and the degree of warping were inspected.
Reconsidering this approach to wood construction made us think that we were “braiding” timber rather than “building” it. The principle of braiding involves load distribution, friction, and tension and in that sense, it was more primitive. It would be a contemporary architecture that intentionally employs primitive techniques.