Pieter Weijnen demonstrates the exponential rate at which green design is advancing

Via dwell.com, 11-09-2011

With House 2.0, architect Pieter Weijnen demonstrates the exponential rate at which green design is advancing.

For architect Pieter Weijnen of Amsterdam firm Faro, building his own low-energy home (featured in our July/August 2008 issue) was just the start. A year later, he broke ground on a new home for himself, partner Renske Felkema, and their children, Puck and Finn.

House 2.0, located on the manmade archipel­ago of IJburg, fine-tunes the design of the first house, but it goes further in energy efficiency and sustainability: “It’s a passive house,” says Weijnen. “We’ve got the biggest triple-glazed window in the Netherlands and a geothermal heating ex­change system. There is a wood-burning stove; a rainwater tank; and—a bit unusual for the city—a wind turbine on the roof.” Add to this a whole tree used instead of a girder, adobe walls instead of plaster, and a charred-wood facade, and it’s clear that this isn’t your run-of-the-mill eco-house. “You have to take risks once in a while,” says Weijnen.

House 2.0’s distinctive wood siding uses the traditional Japanese technique of burned wood, a natural way to preserve timber and (paradoxically) make it fire resistant. Chemical preservatives, paints, and retardants are thus unnecessary. A further plus is the silvery beauty of the charred finish.
Your Turn: 
Weijnen discovered the use of charred wood through the work of Terunobu Fuji­mori and traveled to the Japanese island of Naoshima to observe the traditional techni­que. Back in Amsterdam, he adapted the process for his own home. Here’s how he did it.
Step 1: 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.
Step 2: Weijnen charred the top one-eighth inch of each board in the gas burner–equipped oven, a process that took ap­proximately ten minutes.
Step 3: After removing the planks from the brick oven, Weijnen doused
them with water if the fires didn’t go out on their own. Though Weijnen left his boards au naturel, you can also finish planks by brushing and oiling them.
Step 4: The inevitable learning curve will begin with less successful pieces; Weijnen used his early attempts in the kitchen ceiling.

Burning the top one-eighth inch of each wood board is a natural way to preserve the timber and (paradoxically) make it fire resistant. Chemical preservatives, paints, and retardants are thus unnecessary. A further plus is the silvery beauty of the charred finish.

House 2.0 relies on recycled wood for support–—notably, two enormous former mooring posts of basralocus wood and an entire elm tree. The hundred-year-old mooring posts, each standing 26 feet high, were placed at either end of the building as its main structural supports. Weijnen used a 75-year-old elm tree instead of a steel girder to support the suspended living room. The tree was felled during the reno­vation of one of the city’s canal quays. “It corresponds to the Japanese practice of incorporating a natural element into architecture,” says Weijnen.