Ancestral, vernacular, minimalist and harmonious. For many, these words have come to define the architecture of Japan, a country that has long served as a source of cultural and technological inspiration for countless societies worldwide. Popular Japanese techniques have reached even the most remote corners of the globe, gaining traction across various fields that range from technical craftsmanship to digital innovation. Within the realm of architecture, the appropriation and reinvention of various materials and construction systems –such as the use of carbonized wood in facades– has been an enduring theme.

Now more than three hundred years old, the popular technique is known in Japan as Shou Sugi Ban (also known as Yakisugi). It was first employed on the island of Naoshima to treat wood used in the construction of traditional fishing villages, with the goal of protecting the material from the damaging effects caused by the sea. The process originally involved burning the outer layer of the wood with fire, but has now evolved to charring the boards with a torch –by doing so, the material’s external fibers are forced to react, making the wood immune to termites, fungi and other natural forces for decades. It might sound strange at first: burning the wood to increase its durability. Nonetheless, it has proven to be completely true, so much so that the centuries-old method has become a sought-after resource in the architecture industry.

Read more via