Shou Sugi Ban – a traditional Japanese method of charring timber with fire – is making a comeback in modern architecture around the world. Not only does the striking black timber blend seamlessly with today’s modern, minimal building designs, timber charred in the Shou Sugi Ban method is incredibly durable.
Let’s take a closer look at why this 18th Century Japanese method is fast becoming a popular choice for modern timber building designs.
1. Built to Last
Although it might seem counterintuitive, charring the wood with fire actually makes it stronger and more durable. When the timber is burnt in the Shou Sugi Ban method, moisture is removed and a charcoal layer forms on the surface. This layer acts as a fire resistant barrier and also prevents water damage to the wood.
Shou Sugi Ban timber is weather resistant, but it also repels termites, slugs and various other insects. The result is an incredibly durable timber which requires little upkeep and performs well even when exposed to the elements.
2. Kinder to Earth
Shou Sugi Ban arose out of a need for a more sustainable way to preserve the exterior of homes in 18th Century Japan. Compared to countless other modern building materials, Shou Sugi Ban architectural timber is far more sustainable.
For starters, wood itself is a natural and renewable product when harvested from sustainably managed forests, and timber is often recycled at the end of its life. Unfortunately, many modern architectural timbers are coated with harsh chemicals which can be harmful to the environment. Shou Sugi Ban on the other hand relies only on natural materials and processes to achieve a high level of durability.
3. Visually Stunning
If you have ever seen a building constructed from Shou Sugi Ban timber, you know that it is visually impressive. The black carbon layer is striking whether it’s used as an accent or the main material. Black paints and stains really cannot compare.
From a distance, the overall impression is sleek and sophisticated. Up close, you can see the natural textures of the timber coming through the charcoal layer. On its own or paired with other textures and colours, Shou Sugi Ban helps architects achieve an elevated aesthetic.
4. Of Artisanal Quality
Gone are the days when synthetic, factory produced materials were celebrated. These days more and more people are looking for a touch of artisanal quality. Shou Sugi Ban hits the right spot with its hands-on process which requires careful attention from highly skilled creators.
5. Impressively Versatile
Shou Sugi Ban timber is now being used all over the world to create building projects of all sizes and styles. That’s because it’s impressively versatile. It can be used in internal and external applications as wall and ceiling cladding, decking and even fencing. On a smaller scale, Shou Sugi Ban timber has been used to create garden beds, outdoor tables and even garden sculptures.
With so much going for it, it’s no wonder the Shou Sugi Ban method is making a comeback. If it’s your first time coming across charred architectural timber, it’s probably time to put it at the top of your list for your next building design!