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The beautiful and vast landscape of Kokkaido in Memu has an extreme weather climate, therefore Kengo Kuma designed their sustainable experimental house concept using natural materials to insulate and recover the heat created from the indoor fireplace to maintain comfortable temperatures inside no matter how hush the outdoor temperature is.
This sustainable experimental house is inspired by the traditional architecture of the indigenous Ainu, whose “Chise” style buildings hold in the warmth of a central fireplace that is never allowed to burn out.The creators state : “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”. Although the concept has a certain similitude with a typical barn typology, it differs vastly in material use. The 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-fiber fabric of the interior. This insulation was made using recycled plastic bottle.The idea was not to create the thickest, most solid insulation possible, but rather to use the material properties to perform in the desired way. The interior is simple and minimalistic and the only apparent sold surfaces seem to be used in the bathroom.Overall this is an interesting concept through the high tech material usage that contrasts with the conservative shape .
Normal contemporary sustainable architecture involves specific materials and techniques that prove very effective but come at a steep price. Some people might afford such technology but for sure, not all. I think that this type of sustainable architecture experiments can offer ground breaking ideas to solve the sustainability issue for all of us. Low cost green building should be the top priority for architectural concepts and developements.