The World of Timber and Bamboo: “Green, Green and Tropical” Reveals Potential of Materials Science Can’t Recreate
Eleena Jamil, Bamboo Playhouse (2015). © Eleena Jamil Architect
Ebony and rosewood, mahogany and teak... Southeast Asia has always been rich in high-quality timber, not to mention other plant-based materials like bamboo. Since ancient times, these materials have played an essential role in daily life throughout the region, used in everything from architecture to furniture.
By contrast with the high-tech materials and techniques of modern construction, timber architecture is characterized as “slow technology.” But this very slowness underlies the diversity and adaptability they can offer. Now a new exhibition in Tokyo explores the ongoing evolution of these technologies, which are both traditional and revolutionary.
Running until May 6 at the Archi-Depot museum in Tennozu Isle, Tokyo, “Green, Green and Tropical: Woodified Architecture in Southeast Asia” covers a rich variety of wooden architecture from around Southeast Asia, showcasing the techniques, knowledge, and hidden systems shared by residents of the region.
Andry Widyowijatnoko, Great Hall OBI Eco Campus (2011). © Andry Widyowijatnoko
Timber and other plant-based materials create a direct connection between the architecture and products they are used in and the region where they are harvested. What’s more, they are renewable, regrowing naturally to be used again. And when disaster strikes, their adaptability, ready availability, and suitability for traditional building techniques make them invaluable materials for communities as they rebuilding and recover.
“Green, Green and Tropical” features projects using natural and regional materials with properties that cannot be reproduced by science. In particular, it highlights noteworthy pieces by a new generation of Southeast Asian architects who have turned their attention to the reusability and recyclability of timber, revealing a rising tide of interest in these materials and their potential for the future.
Shigeru Ban, Paper Temporary Shelter - Philippines (2014). © Voluntary Architects Network
The Archi-Depot Museum itself is a unique facility that specializes in exhibiting and storing architectural models, with the aim of raising the cultural value of architecture. It supports architects and firms active within Japan and around the world, hosting everything from preliminary studies to completed models, striving to encourage new encounters with both architecture itself and the models that reveal its principles in concentrated form.
Southeast Asia’s culture of wooden architecture has much in common with Japan’s own. Visit this exhibit and see the ideas that might be inspiring Japanese architects before long as interest in natural materials grows.
◆ Green, Green and Tropical: Woodified Architecture in Southeast Asia
Dates: February 6 to May 6, 2019
(Note: Closed from March 4 to 26)
Venue: Room B, Archi-Depot Museum
2-6-10 Higashi-Shinagawa, Shinagawa, Tokyo
Hours: 11:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m., Tuesday to Sunday (last entry 6:00 p.m.)
Closed: Mondays (except public holidays, in which case the museum is open Monday but closed the Tuesday immediately after)
Official site: https://archi-depot.com/en/exhibition/green-green-and-tropical