Digital technologies are revolutionizing the way we build, but they can’t replace the deeply sensual and tactile nature of handcrafted design. Japanese professor and architect Terunobu Fujimori teamed up with postgraduate Unit 5 students at Kingston University’s School of Architecture and Landscape to celebrate craft traditions with a tiered pagoda constructed from recycled materials. Built on the grounds of the Doric House Museum in Kingston Vale, the 2016 Seminar House Pavilion doubles as an observation tower overlooking Richmond Park.
Completed as part of the Kingston University Degree Show 2016, the Seminar House Pavilion combines traditional craftsmanship found in British and Japanese culture. The students drew inspiration from their study abroad trip to Nagano and Tokyo, where they toured a variety of Japanese buildings, from a 16th century timber castle to a self-built concrete house. Fujimori also gave talks on the “Red School,” a term he coined to describe a group of Japanese architects recognized for the handmade aspects of their buildings.
The top-heavy Seminar House Pavilion comprises three tiers, each clad in different materials and partially constructed of recycled materials from the 2015 pavilion. Four zinc-clad “legs” support a middle section covered in around 1,000 sweet chestnut shingles. The topmost section is clad in Yakisugi, or Shou-Sugi-Ban, a type of burnt cedar wood commonly used in Japan for siding and decking projects. Students created the cladding materials in a series of workshops. Visitors can access the pavilion’s different levels via wooden ladders. The project will be open to the public during museum hours from summer to autumn.