Among various building materials used by humans, stone, earth, and wood have been used since the earliest time in all parts of the world. Methods of using these materials greatly vary in each place.
Many people assume that Western architecture is made of stone and Eastern architecture is made of wood. While stone and wood are used separately in general, one can find different cases such as traditional architecture in China or Northern Europe where stone and wood are integrated. I think this assumption was probably influenced by ideological backgrounds of these materials as well as their essential characteristics. Or, maybe it may be simply understood as people’s common notions that stone symbolizes infinity and eternity while wood symbolizes finiteness and life.
Selection of building materials may be influenced by a specific culture of the place, but basically determined by the availability of materials and related construction techniques there. Because buildings are the largest objects humans make, and also because they make so many buildings, this tendency is especially evident. I believe that a well-balanced cycle of “local production and local consumption” totally makes sense.
When we visualize Earth in our minds, we imagine that magma is generated at the core, which is covered with “stone” or rock layers; the surface of stone or rock layer is covered with “earth”; and many “trees” grow on the ground. People continue to cut, carry, and assemble these three kinds of materials to build architecture, which is a never-changing construction scene in the history of human civilization.
By using “magical” tools, namely fire and water, possibilities of these materials expand infinitely. Modern building materials including steel, cement, and glass cannot exist without the help of the two wonderful tools.
Materials such as wood, plaster, and roofing tiles are used to build this house. These materials have been used in traditional Japanese architecture for a long time. At a glance, it looks like a generic house one can find anywhere in Japan, because of the simple floor plan and exterior appearance. Looking closely, however, one can see that the house is constructed using elaborate techniques with careful considerations to bring out the beauty of the materials.
Architecture without a physical sense of materiality and deep insights into materials somehow lacks strength and stability like a kite without a thread.