Page E1.1 . 17 May 2006                     
ArchitectureWeek - Environment Department
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    Two Green Houses

    by Alanna Stang and Christopher Hawthorne

    Fifty-one-year-old Kengo Kuma, among the best-known Japanese architects of his generation, tends to use each of his residential commissions to explore a single building material. In a dense Tokyo neighborhood, for example, he designed the so-called Plastic House.

    In his design for a villa in a 2002 development north of Beijing called the Commune by the Great Wall, Kuma displayed the same knack for wringing beautiful forms from commonplace materials, building a house that is as much an ode to bamboo as a house constructed from it.

    Bamboo is a highly sustainable material for architects and builders because it grows so quickly that its stocks can be replenished very efficiently. Commonly mistaken for a type of tree, bamboo is actually a grass, which helps explain the rate at which it shoots upward several feet (about a meter) per day among some varieties.

    The Commune by the Great Wall, planned by the ambitious Chinese husband-and-wife developers Pan Shiyi and Zhang Xin, features 11 private villas and a clubhouse, each designed by a leading Asian architect. The development is located in the shadow of the Great Wall, about an hour's drive north of Beijing.   >>>

    Discuss this article in the Architecture Forum...

    This article is excerpted from The Green House: New Directions in Sustainable Architecture by Alanna Stang and Christopher Hawthorne, with permission of the publisher, Princeton Architectural Press, Inc.



    ArchWeek Image

    The Bamboo House by architect Kengo Kuma, at the Commune by the Great Wall, near Beijing, China.
    Photo: Satoshi Asakawa

    ArchWeek Image

    The tall windows of the living room provide views to the lush hillside.
    Photo: Satoshi Asakawa


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