5.17-japan-4-detail-a wall construction Highlights Relevant to Sustainable Design:

Rethink walls.

This familiar roofline of the Buddhist Bible store is typical of traditional Japanese roof shapes but unique in that the wall construction is made up of diagonally, wedge-cut logs. One of the intentions of the thick wall log design is to allow more expansion over humid summers to deter moisture from damaging the Bibles.

In America, two-by-four vertical studs and two-by-six studs are still the most popular form of construction for residential construction. Plywood sheathing is often fastened to the outside of the studs with weatherproofing membrane stapled to the surface prior to siding or stucco. Using thicker two-by-six studs allows for more insulation than the thinner studs.

These thick construction members in Japan inspired me during the design of our solar house years later in America. I ended up using vertical studs, but I was able to create ten-inch thick walls by combining two-by-six studs for structure with a two-by-four interior wall. This combined approach not only allowed me to pack the studs with ten inches of insulation for energy savings in both heating and cooling seasons, but I staggered the placement of the studs to reduce the thermal bridge that typically transfers the exterior temperature into a structure. The by-product was also a quieter home, since exterior sound waves do not have a direct path through the staggered studs.

5.16.Japan-4-Horizontal-with-Figure – This drawing includes wall construction, Japanese hand saw,  Japanese roof tiles, Japanese teahouse, and shoji screen details.

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.


wall construction, Japanese hand saw, Japanese roof tiles, Japanese teahouse, shoji screen

Author and illustrator: Charlie Szoradi is an architect, inventor, and the CEO of Independence LED Lighting. He writes about many other topics related to energy efficient wall construction 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 different types of wall construction, we hope that you enjoy exploring LearnfromLooking.com. You can search via general terms such as sustainability as well as narrower terms such as wall construction.