Meme Meadows Experimental House
by Kengo Kuma and Associates

| 13 comments
 

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).

Meme Meadows Experimental House by Kengo Kuma and Associates

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.

Meme Meadows Experimental House by Kengo Kuma and Associates

"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.

Meme Meadows Experimental House by Kengo Kuma and Associates

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.

Meme Meadows Experimental House by Kengo Kuma and Associates

"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.

Meme Meadows Experimental House by Kengo Kuma and Associates

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.

Meme Meadows Experimental House by Kengo Kuma and Associates

The internal lining can be removed for experiments, while a timber-framed sash window will also be examined.

Meme Meadows Experimental House by Kengo Kuma and Associates

The project was completed with support from the Tomonari Yashiro Laboratory at the University of Tokyo’s Institute of Industrial Science.

Meme Meadows Experimental House by Kengo Kuma and Associates

Japanese studio Kengo Kuma and Associates also recently completed a small hut held together with magnets and a Beijing store where aluminium screens evoke brickwork patterns. See more stories about Kengo Kuma.

Meme Meadows Experimental House by Kengo Kuma and Associates

See more architecture in Japan »

Meme Meadows Experimental House by Kengo Kuma and Associates

Here's some more information from Kengo Kuma and Associates:


Meme Meadows Experimental House

We were in charge of the first experimental house, and in the process of designing, we got a number of clues from "Chise," the traditional housing style of the Ainu. What is most characteristic about Chise is that it is a "house of grass" and "house of the earth." While in Honshu (the main island) a private house is principally a "house in wood" or "house of earthen wall," Chise is distinctively a "house of grass," as the roof and the wall are entirely covered with sedge or bamboo grass so that it can secure heat-insulating properties.

Meme Meadows Experimental House by Kengo Kuma and Associates

Also, in Honshu the floor is raised for ventilation to keep away humidity, whereas in Chise they spread cattail mat directly on the ground, make a fireplace in the center, and never let the fire go out throughout the year. 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.

Meme Meadows Experimental House by Kengo Kuma and Associates

Here is how section of the house is structured: We wrapped a wooden frame made of Japanese larch with a membrane material of polyester fluorocarbon coating. Inner part is covered with removable glass-fiber-cloth membrane. Between the two membranes, a polyester insulator recycled from PET bottles is inserted that penetrates the light. This composition is based on the idea that by convecting the air in-between, the internal environment could be kept comfortable because of the circulation.

Meme Meadows Experimental House by Kengo Kuma and Associates

We do not treat insulation within the thickness of heat-insulation material only, which was a typical attitude of the static environmental engineering in 20th century. What we aim at is a dynamic environmental engineering to replace it for this age. That we utilize the radiant heat from the floor is part of it, and it has been verified that you could spend several days in winter here without using floor heating.

Meme Meadows Experimental House by Kengo Kuma and Associates

The other reason we covered the house with membrane material was our longing for a life surrounded by natural light, as if you were wrapped in daylight on the grassland. 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 synchronizes the rhythm of the nature.

Meme Meadows Experimental House by Kengo Kuma and Associates

In one part of the house, a wooden insulated window sash is installed external to the membrane. It is a new device to monitor the living environment of the house by changing various types of sashes. Likewise, all glass fiber cloth in the interior can be removed so that we can continue many kinds of environmental experiment.

Meme Meadows Experimental House by Kengo Kuma and Associates

Above: ground floor plan - click above for larger image

Meme Meadows Experimental House by Kengo Kuma and Associates

Above: roof plan - click above for larger image

Meme Meadows Experimental House by Kengo Kuma and Associates

Above: section - click above for larger image

  • redordead

    The funny thing is that, although it looks as experimental as it was designed to be, it seems a lot more human than most Japanese homes covered on Dezeen.

  • moontje

    Love the idea, but would not like to be a victim of my own house.

  • 1234

    My initial thought was that, inside, it looked like a marquee. However, If viewed from the perspective of someone who has grown up with their most famous historical buildings containing translucent paper walls then I suppose it could be perceived differently.

  • http://twitter.com/Mulciber @Mulciber

    “Human” means what?

    • Nicole

      For most of those making comments here, “human” means conforming to Western standards of what a house should look like and be like. If they actually studied or read about traditional Japanese architecture, they would know why Japanese houses lack windows and are inward-looking.

      It’s really too bad that the lack of any depth of knowledge is the status quo of the Internet.

      • federouge

        Why is that?

  • ann

    This looks cozy :)

  • jeremy

    Is that an electric heater in front of the bed? I thought the whole house was using only the central fireplace?

    • Roman

      I think a system of water tubes is connected to the fireplace. Although I’m not sure.

  • redordead

    “Human” as in putting the people first, the architecture second. Look for instance at a traditional Japanese house. Although it uses space in an extremely efficient, businesslike way, people still put their mark on it by sliding the doors/screens to make a room fitting to their needs of the moment.

  • jrjrjr

    I like the shape, but what a disgusting choice of materials! Polyester insulation, polycarbonate, glass-fibre fabric… urghs.

  • utopianrobot

    The client who asked for this house clearly values the importance of design and most likely was comfortable with the risk that is assumed with such a project. Not to mention, polycarbonate panels are a relatively proven technology. Kuma was just pushing the performance and poetics of such a material. Also much of the risk associated with this house was probably covered in insurance too, so not to worry about being a “victim.”

    The simple form is made totally new with the change in material and the choice of the material has great performance and poetic effects. Really cool, especially in comparison to H&D’s stacked gable houses.

  • hastingscolin

    I love this. What would it cost to build? Oh, and how do I keep the roof clean?