Teaching the Teachers – Japanese Style!
24th April 2019

Teaching the Teachers – Japanese Style!

What do you do when an eminent Japanese Doctor of Architecture asks to incorporate a visit to a modern timber frame house while in the UK with his five architecture students? You contact the Chris James, Chair of EATTA and Tabitha Binding, University Engagement Manager for TRADA and hand the challenge over to them.

Inspecting the cladding on the Sustainability School at the BRE Innovation Park

In late March, Chris and Tabitha greeted the six visitors at Brickett Wood Station. After an exchange of gifts they set off to the BRE Innovation Park where there are more than a dozen cutting edge and innovative properties. The self-guided app tour was surprisingly available in a myriad of languages, including Japanese.

The group exchanged comparisons with the Japanese domestic market and the European equivalents, offering questions on earthquake protection and fire – UK counters with questions on laminated dimensions and roofing styles.

There was some notable excitement around CLT, glulam and wood fibre insulation at the Wilmott Dixon Sustainability School constructed in 2007 and converted into a Healthcare Campus in 2009. Nothing like this is seen or used in Japan. The roof terrace includes decking, cladding and exterior glulam, all nicely detailed and weathered to a beautiful silver grey. The species and products were completely new to the students, but they have their own Sugi (Cedar) and Larch but seemingly not yet used in similar ways.

Chris James, Dr Seiichi Kawamoto with the five Building and Social Science Students at the Prince’s House, BRE Innovation Park – note the Welsh Alder flooring!

The Hanson Eco House had everyone jumping up and down on the first floor to test the solidity. The Barratt Green House had everyone stroking the Oak flooring and joinery and envying the bathroom and storage neatly encapsulated behind sliding doors. Tabitha was very pleased to see the Welsh Alder end grain tiling in the Prince’s natural house had worn well, a supply chain project that she had been involved with in 2011.

Chris and Tabitha discussed how and where social housing is required in expensive metropolitan areas, growing in importance in both countries – this lead to discussing build time and the lack of experienced site labour and the need to factory build, so much in common despite being on opposite sides of the globe.

The students departed having run out of time to inspect all the buildings, ensuring a second visit mandatory. Another successful academic and trade engagement accomplished!