The Même – Experimental House designed by Kengo Kuma & Associates in Japan reveals the various techniques of traditional Japanese housing intertwined with sustainable design. It is a way of experimenting with design ideas that fostered the growth of passive design in this 20th century age. For various reasons, most of the traditional Japanese homes are made of 3 different materials, mainly wood, earth and grass or bamboo. They widely help in increasing the thermal insulation and acoustic properties of the house. The same principles have been applied to this experimental house, but with a different approach.
It is a project, based on “Chise” also known as the “house of grass,” where the roof and wall membranes of the house are covered with grass and bamboo ledges. In the centre of the house, fire is lit and is kept ignited all through the year to generate radiated heat to keep the house warm during winters. On the other hand, houses on the Island of Honshu are made of wood and their flooring is kept raised above to ground to prevent humidity, thus keeping the house warm. At present, for the Experimental House, the same design ideal of “Chise” is implemented, but with a contrast by using polycarbonate cloth membrane wrapped around wooden frames instead of grass. The floor is also covered with insulating materials that help retain the heat, all through the year.
These insulating materials are wrapped around a wooden frame in 2 layers, where the heat generated is trapped in between, thus keeping the interior warm. They are made of fibrous cloth membranes in a stark white colour that helps in filtering the light penetrating through them and illuminating the interiors. In short, the Même house is about designing an interior environment that keeps up with the changing cycles of nature through day and night.
Photos courtesy of Kengo Kuma & Associates