If Thatch Went Global

Journal of Architecture and Building Science, June, 2000.

This is an article I wrote in Japanese (with help!) about our cross-cultural rethatching project on a 100 year-old farmhouse in Miyamacho, Kyoto Prefecture. In it, I explored the local/global paradox of thatching around the world, based on my experiences as the producer of the first cross-cultural rethatching project in Japan. I had learned a lot about the history of British thatching from reading research like “Thatch: Thatching in England 1790-1940”, produced by English Heritage, as well as from holding interviews on a research trip to the UK with thatchers like Roger Evans, the lead thatcher on our project, and several individuals active in all aspects of the thatching world. One result was a piece for Metropolis Magazine about John Letts, a Canadian who delved deep into research into historical agriculture by studying smoke-blackened thatch. This piece in the Journal of Architecture and Building Science is an objective record of the pre-internet networking and communication required to pull off a large international project involving local craftspeople as well as the resulting workshops, symposia and media coverage, all sparked by the dream of a young Japanese thatcher and the energy of a young-ish American writer.