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Life Style Koubou creates slender stilts to protect this family house from Bandai-san's snowfalls

Japan - Apr 6, 2018 - 06:28   3869 views

Japanese architecture firm Life Style Koubou Architectural Design has completed a wooden family house built on slender stilts to protect the house from heavy snowfalls of this area, which is located at the base of Bandai-san mountain, in Japan.

Named One Year Project, two housing blocks were created for a family who live in the city. The architects created a special structural system to make it sustainable for a long time, as this region is known for its special heavy snowfalls. They used more than 2m-high snow load to design a stilt structural system to protect the house from snow.

The house is comprised of two blocks; a living function and a life related watery function are separately accommodated in each block. These two blocks are connected with a wavy bridge that makes people enjoy harshness and happiness in natural environment with their five senses.

"One year project" as the name indicates "move with times" which means that it took entire one year to experience the whole process such as tree cutting, sawing, fabrication, and assembling together with nature. At its heart, a house building is expected to be succeeding each process through dialogue with nature," said the architects in a project statement. 

"In general, the process of cutting tree is done in the depth of winter to draw the maximum material performance. And then lumbers are seasoned for half a year or three years at most. Average construction period is about four months for general housing project nowadays, compare to the recent work situation, the one year preparation period could be quite a long time."

"However, the length of time we spent in this project make many stories created by people involved in each process of cutting, sawing, processing, delivery, and assembling and planting trees at the site," they added.

Focusing on the "sustainability" at the core design principle of the project, the architects explained the process as "an idea of 'borrow' not 'receive' the resources from natural environment", as the project, after the completion, aims to return the material to the nature, as much as it used, to plant the same kind of trees to prepare the necessary amount of natural material for next generations.

"One hundred twenty trees with 80 to 90-year-old and approx. 40cm diameter, without any special treatment, keep the wooden original features, adjust lumber to original log size not to a standard, these diligent works make every expression of trees become alive," explained the architects.

"It usually functioning in accordance with defined regulations in modern society, we ponder that construction of the “One year project” should yield to nature. It would probably never have the chance to use up a tree until nothing left, however it makes possible by adapting the flexible method of yielding nature."

Volcanic rocks form Bandai-san are used for foundation footings, and a stilt system is adopted to build the house above the 2m-high snow a peculiar feature of this area. Two housing blocks - providing a space of 12 and 18 ft. long - with a floor and a roof are constructed. 

But, the interior of the house presents a warm environment with minimalist furnitures and fire places, by also watching aesthetic slender columns that are visible from the house's structure. All the interior space is made of lumber and creates a fragmented ceiling to provide the maximum height for the house.

The architects used the bedrock congealed lave in the ancient times as substrate that lying under 80cm below and installed 1.5m rectangular-like natural volcanic block (granite) as isolated footings.

The forest of steel posts (φ89.1mm – φ165.2mm) are come up alternately from footings. These posts are connected to the wooden lattice-work stilt floor surface (beam height = 240mm) at the middle and to the square roof surface (beam height = 300mm) at the top. By supporting vertical and horizontal force by the posts, this structural system made possible to having open periphery.

"The foundation footing used for this project are natural rocks, so they vary in size, shape, and height. It totally depends on their true nature. Sometimes we experience an illusory feeling that as if we draw lines to design one-sidedly," detailed the studio. 

"But in nature we believe that we the construction side should face and communicate to the stones, trees or some such materials, exterior surroundings including climate."

"We rediscover this process itself is the architecture," they added.

All images courtesy of Life Style Koubou Architectural Design 

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