Même Experimental House

by | 10. Jan 2013

Educational | Feature
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Photo courtesy Kengo Kuma & Associates

Located on the 185,000 m2 site of a former ranch in Taikicho, Hokkaido, Même Meadows is a unique research facility for studying design responses to the region’s harsh climate. Situated within Même Meadows, Même is an experimental house for cold climates.

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Photo courtesy Kengo Kuma & Associates

 

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Photo courtesy Kengo Kuma & Associates

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Photo courtesy Kengo Kuma & Associates

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Photo courtesy Kengo Kuma & Associates

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Photo courtesy Kengo Kuma & Associates

 

We were in charge of the first experimental house, and in the process of designing, we got a number of clues from “Chise,” the traditional housing style of the Ainu.

What is most characteristic about Chise is that it is a “house of grass” and “house of the earth.” While in Honshu (the main island) a private house is principally a “house in wood” or “house of earthen wall,” Chise is distinctively a “house of grass,” as the roof and the wall are entirely covered with sedge or bamboo grass so that it can secure heat-insulating properties.

Also, in Honshu the floor is raised for ventilation to keep away humidity, whereas in Chise they spread cattail mat directly on the ground, make a fireplace in the center, and never let the fire go out throughout the year. 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.

/ Kengo Kuma
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Photo courtesy Kengo Kuma & Associates

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Photo courtesy Kengo Kuma & Associates

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Photo courtesy Kengo Kuma & Associates

For the construction of the section a wooden frame, made of Japanese larch, is wrapped with a membrane material of polyester fluorocarbon coating. The inner part is covered with removable glass-fiber-cloth membrane.

Between the two membranes, a polyester insulator recycled from PET bottles is inserted that penetrates the light. This composition is based on the idea that by convecting the air in-between, the internal environment could be kept comfortable because of the circulation.

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Photo courtesy Kengo Kuma & Associates

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Photo courtesy Kengo Kuma & Associates

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Photo courtesy Kengo Kuma & Associates

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Photo courtesy Kengo Kuma & Associates

Covering the house with membrane material surrounded it with natural light. Without relying on any lighting system, you simply get up when it gets light, and sleep after dark – enabling you to lead a life that synchronizes the rhythm of nature.

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Photo courtesy Kengo Kuma & Associates

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Photo courtesy Kengo Kuma & Associates

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Photo courtesy Kengo Kuma & Associates

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Photo courtesy Kengo Kuma & Associates

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Photo courtesy Kengo Kuma & Associates

In one part of the house, a wooden insulated window sash is installed external to the membrane. It is a new device to monitor the living environment of the house by changing various types of sashes. Likewise, all glass fiber cloth in the interior can be removed so that we can continue many kinds of environmental experiment.

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Drawing courtesy Kengo Kuma & Associates

 

INFORMATION

CITY Hokkaido
COUNTRY Japan
ARCHITECT Kengo Kuma & Associates

CLIENT

CONTRACTOR