Siding is a pretty dull subject—unless you're talking about charred cedar cladding, which makes our hearts go pitter-patter. It's beautiful to look at and practical, too—the ancient Japanese technique seals the wood against rain and rot, and makes it fire resistant. Here, a look at some houses that feature this ancient—and yet so modern—material. For additional examples of dark-colored exteriors, check out our slideshow Back in Black.
Terunobu Fujimori's Charred Cedar House, completed in 2007, is clad in charred cedar boards, which have been treated with an ancient Japanese technique that seals the wood against rain and rot. Read our profile on the Japanese architect. Photo by Adam Friedberg.
Fujimori demonstrates the process of charring cedar boards. After seven minutes, the length of time it takes to produce the proper amount of char, the boards are separated.
If good fences make good neighbors, then Shino and Ken Mori are the best neighbors ever. For our story The Hidden Fortress, they invite us past the charred cedar facade of their walled-in, introverted Southern California home, the Wabi House, designed by architect Sebastian Mariscal. Here, Shino and Ken pull an Eames LCW chair for Herman Miller outside to enjoy their koi pond, which serves as a kind of front yard.
The striking black facade of Pieter Weijnen's home in IJburg, Amsterdam, is the result of the Japanese practice of charring wood. Weijnen, an architect at the Amsterdam firm Faro, first discovered charred wood through the work of Terunobu Fujimori and later traveled to the Japanese island of Naoshima to observe the traditional technique. Photo by Hans Peter Follmi.
Though traditionally, three Japanese cedar boards are bound to form a long triangle and a fire is started within the resulting tunnel, Weijnen built a brick oven to accommodate two six-foot-long larch wood boards at a time when he charred his wood in Amsterdam. After removing the planks from the brick oven, Weijnen doused them with water if the fires didn't go out on their own. He used his less successful pieces in the kitchen ceiling.
The front door of this house in Scotland is built from charred cedar boards—a traditional way of fireproofing wood. In this case, the effect on the front door is likely more aesthetic than preventative—though you can never be too careful. See the Japanese-inspired interiors, including a tatami room and a sunken dining table, in our original story. Photo by Ben Anders.