shousugiban

A very effective and ecological way of preserving a wooden facade is by charring it.  It is now very much en vogue but it is actually an ancient Japanese method called “Shousugiban” (焼杉板). When I lived in Nara, I always admired the dark wooden facades of the traditional houses, not really knowing then how it was achieved. Now we are exploring the possibilities of it for our facade. There is one man in Holland, Pieter Weijnen, who is specialized in this technique and he uses his own house here in Amsterdam as a guinnee pig, cladding it with all sorts of wood charred in various degrees. We visited him last week and he enthousiastically showed us around his house. Inspired by the Al Gore documentary, Pieter decided that he really wanted to be part of the solution and not anymore of the problem of climate change. We were looking at the charcoaled planks and could tell that after 7 years they still looked perfectly imperfect. The wood we would need is douglas or larch (lariks), which will be dried in an oven until the humidity level is around 14 %. Then it can be charred. A point of attention is, that the charred part wears off faster in strong winds and UV exposure, litterary eroding the protecting effect. Also, the charcoaled wood gives off, so it may not be a good idea to use it for the side facades, where it may stain the neighbours.