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- story by MaterialDistrict

A trip to Japan in 2009 brought architect Pieter Weijnen in contact with the work of Terunobu Fujimori and Shou-Sugi-Ban, resulting in the development of Zwarthout. This material is based on Shou-Sugi-Ban, which is a Japanese tradition of burning wood siding that dates back thousands of years.

The method was developed because the Japanese discovered that heavily charred boards used for siding are much more resistant to rot and insects, as well as far less likely to ignite when exposed to sparks or flames. The Shou-Sugi-Ban method was once vital in reducing fires but is now primarily used because of its aesthetics and weather resistance in exterior applications. On the islands of the prefecture of Kanawa, many houses are still build this way.

The development of new purposes and finishes of Zwarthout continues. Since 2014, Weijnen has been working together with Pieter Waijer. Weijnen states, ‘Zwarthout is a great low-tech product with a wide variety of applications and design possibilities. It’s also a product that demands attention of every partner in the building process – producer, builder, carpenter and the architect. All Zwarthout projects have a specific character.’

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