Traditional Japanese Timber Framing
Despite there being many ways of framing in wood, and even many ways of timber framing in particular; the Japanese style of “Ishibatate” or “standing on the stones” traditional framing has been perfected over 2000 years of trial and error. It is a framing style that aims to create a building that is so in tune with nature that it rests in it rather than being a prominent figure apart from it.
• Intelligent earthquake resistance
Unfortunately losing its place in the Japanese landscape after WWII due to American law influencing architectural standards, this type of timber framing existed as the fundamental carpentry in Japan up to post war. This style does not attempt to withstand an earthquake, rather using wood’s greatest strength, flexibility, the building implores several major strategies to absorb and disperse an earthquake’s energy.
a foundation of columns on stone not fastened to the ground by any means. This strategy allows the building to shift as one in an earthquake’s tremors.
a raised sub-structure called stiffeners instead of a sill foundation laid flat on stone or concrete.
layered horizontal bracing in walls and roof structure as well as extra long tenons in columns and beams for depth of interconnection within vertical and horizontal members.
wooden rather than metal fixtures for splicing & connections.
soil plaster walls with woven bamboo sub structures for shock absorption.
• Termite and insect resilience
Typical sill foundations need to be covered from the elements and often create an incredibly damp environment perfect for insects and especially termites, and unsuitable for wood. Ishibatate frames are raised keeping the larger portion of the wooden members from being in touch with water that is naturally absorbed from stones or particularly concrete foundations. In addition, winds can move freely below the frame drying the wood if it should get wet. Any maintenance is easily facilitated by easy access to the structural foundation.
Finally, the woods used in most traditional Japanese frames are often insect repellant cypress, cedar, and chestnut.
• Natural Materials
Everything in a truly traditional Japanese frame could be removed and literally returned to the earth. Wood, bamboo, soil, straw, stone, wool…these are the basics. We pride ourselves in frames free from glues, additives, and other toxic materials.
We believe in materials that are genuine. For us a great definition of genuine materials in architecture is one that you can cut and cut and cut and you will still find the same material beneath. These materials are timeless. The owner interacts with them and each patina in its own way. These imprints create a character over time that really brings life to the building. If you have ever been to one of these old buildings that has been lived in and loved and maintained for hundreds of years you know they shine despite losing their sheen, and they are soft despite losing their original hand planed finish.