Sumu Yakashima is a co-operative housing project that supports humans and natureSumu Yakashima is a co-operative housing project that supports humans and natureGiphy GIFGiphy GIF

Sumu Yakashima is a co-operative housing project that supports humans and nature

Architect Tsukasa Ono designed this housing project on Japan‘s Yakushima island to have a positive impact on its natural ...
...setting, using a “regenerative” approach to improve the soil by promoting the growth of mycelium and bacteria.
“We were temporarily living at my friend Yuki Imamura’s hotel on Yakushima island,” Ono recalled.
“We started to make a concept for a small project but it was so exciting that the project kept getting bigger so we accepted some more good friends to join us.”
“We talked a lot about ideas and discussed many times what our future life here would be like.” Ono explained.
“I think this project solves many aspects of today’s problems on Earth.”
The site and layout of the buildings were determined following a thorough appraisal of existing tree positions, water flow and other environmental factors.
The buildings nestle among the existing trees and are elevated above the forest floor to promote the natural flow of air from the hills to the sea.
The carbonised wood promotes the growth of mycelium (fungal threads), which encourages tree root growth and helps strengthen the soil.
Ono is a specialist in the use of bacteria and fungi in architecture and believes the proper implementation of these concepts can enrich nature, while also making buildings more robust and comfortable.
“Sumu’s regenerative building method keeps the microorganisms in the soil alive,” he points out, “and by activating the bacteria, the artificial building can connect with the natural network.”
“By doing so, it is possible to help each other with the surrounding environment and change the environment more positively.”
All energy is generated by solar panels and stored in batteries, with local firewood used for heating and cooking.
The buildings make use of local Yakushima cedar, which is richer in oil than cedar from other regions, making it durable and suitable for exterior use in Yakushima’s rainy, humid climate.
Hiiragi’s House is a Japanese home arranged around a courtyard and old tree
The site plan comprises several cabins that are connected by outdoor paths. Some of the cabins contain communal facilities including the lounge, kitchen and dining area, while others are used for private accommodation.
Large outdoor decks allow the inhabitants to feel immersed in their surroundings, while the need to walk through the forest to perform activities like cooking or bathing enhances this connection with nature.
“Since the Industrial Revolution, humans have destroyed and consumed nature,” the architect added.
“If this regenerative architecture spreads throughout the world, I believe that the global environment will recover at ... astonishing speed. The most innovative idea is the change of architecture from negative impact to positive impact.”
The photography is courtesy of Tsukasa Ono.