Thatch And Other Metaphors

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"Thatch" refers to any plant material used on a roof. It's always been beautiful to me, but until I lived beneath a thatched roof I had no idea of its significance. Thatch is used everywhere, but it's locally determined; in Ireland they may use seaweed near the ocean, but in my part of Japan, the roofs were covered in miscanthus grass. In England, thatching was what people did with the wheat straw after they'd threshed it. Thatch is a metaphor for the right way to connect with the earth. The "McMansion," on the other hand, is a metaphor for the wrong way. Both intrigue me. How can we be drawn to both solutions to the question of how to live?

Thatch

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Maggie's Sino-European Experiment

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Living in Grass Houses

Japan Quarterly Jul/Sept 1999

In most areas of rural Japan, where the thatched house is the prominent vernacular form, the burden of preservation is on the owner. Why should we bother to halt their decline? Edward S. Morse wrote in 1885 "The thatched roof is picturesque and...

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Living in Grass Houses

Japan Quarterly Jul/Sept 1999

In most areas of rural Japan, where the thatched house is the prominent vernacular form, the burden of preservation is on the owner. Why should we bother to halt their decline? Edward S. Morse wrote in 1885 "The thatched roof is picturesque and warm, and makes a good rain-shed." Japanese architect and folk architecture expert Kawashima Chuji praised thatch for its light weight and insulation (R value of 80, twice conventional 'modern' materials), and also that thatch muffles the sound of rain, hardly an insignificant point, since Japan gets between 1,000 and 2,500 millimeters of rain a year. Thatch is ecological, recyclable, renewable and non-polluting. Karl Bengs, German-born, Japan-based architect, says, "Like a child, an old building must be looked after, cared for, nurtured." And like the mother who bore us, she must be respected--not buried alive in a tin casket--nor left alone to die.

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Propping up the Art of Thatching

Coming Soon...

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If Thatch Went Global

Coming Soon...

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Chilchinbito

Coming Soon...