Traditional Japanese Architecture, Design & Woodworking

Design & Architecture

The architectural forms found in Japan are essentially pure structure. Posts and beams supporting the roof and protecting and sheltering the occupants of the house are meticulously joined and finished without molding or applied trims. Most structural components of the house are also the finish elements as well, so precise joinery and great care in assembly are necessary. Our work has been described as "house-sized furniture," built with the kind of devotion to excellence one would find in the West only in furniture-making.

A 16th century Japanese lived without many of the physical comforts we take for granted: in the cold, with shoes off, on the floor, without furniture, with no place to rest his back. This is not the way most Americans or even Japanese want to live today. The classical architectural form is without doubt very beautiful. Its exquisite attention to detail, materials, and woodworking is inspiring, but it doesn't satisfy contemporary expectations of comfort. Making this architecture accessible to Westerners and meeting the requirements of Americans has been a constantly evolving field of study for us at East Wind. We are, after all, Americans building in America, not Japanese of the sixteenth century.

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Covered walk from second floor.

Garden stairs to upper level.

Stone bridge - note edges.

We start with our understanding of the classical architectural form we know so well and design from that unique perspective. In a sense, as we do the design work we are actually mentally building the house keeping an eye on costs and ease of construction. We are fluent in this form. To design a Japanese house, it's necessary to have a carpenter's knowledge of how to build one. Just as the masons of Europe designed Gothic cathedrals with their knowledge of stone, Japanese carpenters designed all of the National Treasures of Japan with their knowledge of wood and structure. This is the work and these are the people we admire.

Please click on thumbnail image to see the sequential design process in AutoCAD graphics. Bright colors are used to make the details more distinguishable.
Please be patient: large file (794k).

East Wind works closely with its clients in designing a house that meets their needs. We adhere to the traditional forms and use the traditional means of putting these buildings together. Our houses are serene. We hope they improve the lives of those who will live in them, but we also hope the process of building these houses improves the lives of those who work on them.

East Wind has developed systems of making our houses of all types much more airtight than one would see in Japan and, of course, in building and designing them to satisfy local building codes. All our houses are warm and comfortable; after all we, like everyone else, must conform to California's very strict energy codes.

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