Our team of graduate students, comprised of two Taiwanese, two Chinese, and two American, sought to examine what structural and material elements we could combine to create this community and food oriented space. We recognized how modest materials and actions are celebrated in Berkeley and wanted to explore their implications in Asia. Our initial research started with techniques we find readily in California, including rammed-earth walls and straw bale construction. We presented these ideas in pursuit of a building that would introduce renewable building techniques to an area of Japan that could take advantage of these concepts. What we found was an appreciation for the difficulty of applying transnational technology in a new environment.
We also focused on a heavy timber construction technique coming from the US, which uses large sections of wood. In Japan this translated to the composite column, which uses smaller pieces of wood to generate a larger column. It took considerable effort to identify a way to join materials, which was influenced by both local carpentry practices and the Japanese material market. We were also under a considerable time constraint with the entire building process taking only six months to complete.
The wood frame structure mimics the vertical spatial experience of a Japanese larch forest from which food is hung to grow and dry. A tea platform in the middle of the Nest creates a gathering space where thecommunity can visually and physically enjoy food around a sunken fireplace. Planters are integrated into the floor of the tea room, in which vines are planted. Hemp rope that will be installed in the future will guide these vines vertically up into the Nest creating a green membrane that wraps the tea space.
Photos credit: Shinkenchiku-sha & Erieta Attali
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