5.5-japan-2-horizontal-with-figure – sustainable building materials – Highlights Relevant to Sustainable Design:

The figure outline in this image is for scale to illustrate the size of the fold-out field drawing. The descriptions of certain key elements and insights are included with the accompanying drawings in this section.

Preserve technique over material.

Traditional Japanese houses have steadily made way for the innovations of modern construction. To preserve a few exemplary physical structures and maintain a thread of cultural memory, the Japanese government has funded parks that include regional architecture and craft museums. The history of “craft” is something that struck me as a telltale difference between our current American process of making things and even thinking about making things. I was fortunate to work with both a master carpenter and a master Shikkui mason. Shikkui is a special Japanese lime plaster that includes seaweed extract additives for stability, soybean oil for improved workability and water repellency, natural plant fibers for reduced cracking, and other natural aggregates such as eggshells. Both master craftsmen had trained for years to hone their skills, repeating and copying traditional methods.

Only after decades of looking and learning did they try to improve the process and the product. Our American reputation is based on a force to invent and reinvent the mousetrap of America and products. Often we do so without first understanding the mouse. This sketchbook also includes large wood beams, modular tatami mats, shoji screens, and light fixtures.

5.6.Japan-2-left-side – sustainable building materials


sustainable building materials

5.7.Japan-2-right-side – sustainable building materials


sustainable building materials

Author and illustrator: Charlie Szoradi is an architect, inventor, and the CEO of Independence LED Lighting. He writes about many other topics related to sustainable building materials through his extensive travels around the world.

If you have found this posting online, it is an excerpt from Mr. Szoradi’s book Learn from Looking that served as the inspiring seed content for this drawing share resource. For additional drawings and insights on sustainable building materials, we hope that you enjoy exploring LearnfromLooking.com. You can search via general terms such as sustainability as well as narrower terms such as Japanese architecture, shoji screens, and sustainable building materials.