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œChapter9œ
South wing salon (section view of a-a' in the figure)
"Yajirobe" structure that supports Wright's original wall decoration
Fig. 1) Second floor plan

Structural features that backs up the Wright's design

This time, we would like to shed light on Wright's ideas to achieve his unique design and the techniques that are inextricably linked with decorative effects, focusing on the structure that was identified during YODOKO Guest House's restoration work (1985-1988) and the repair work after the Great Hanshin-Awaji Earthquake (1995-1998). First of all, let us introduce the technique that supports the roof.


Focusing on the "balance" of weights

The strength of the walls is a very important factor for supporting a very heavy roof. One way to produce a robust structure is to increase the amount of reinforcing steel and concrete. However, this will increase the thickness of the wall and obstruct wide room spaces. In YODOKO Guest House, an utterly different technique is used. In short, the walls are structured with the idea of keeping a "balance" of weights. It is said Wright himself got his idea from an image of "a waiter carrying a tray with his hand held up." We have a better example: It is an old Japanese toy called "yajirobe," a doll that has a weight on each arm and stands on one leg, which can be held stably with a finger. Imagine the shape. In the case of YODOKO Guest House, although the structure is more complicated, the principle is very similar (See Fig. 2). Such "yajirobe" structure are said to be seen in many traditional Japanese architectures, including temples and shrines.

(Fig. 2)
Traditional Japanese toy "yajirobe" View showing the structural format of YODOKO Guest House (Blue part on the right section)
The weights on both arms of the "yajirobe" can be compared to the weight of the eaves that construct the roof of YODOKO Guest House and the weight of the rooftop. In order to balance these weights, a wall corresponding to a fingertip is used as a supporting point, with its force (weight x length / moment of force) designed to be balanced.

"Yajirobe" structure sublimated to wall decoration

This time, we would like to shed light on Wright's ideas to achieve his original design and the techniques that are inextricably linked with decorative effects, focusing on the structure that was identified during YODOKO Guest House's restoration work (1985-1988) and the repair work after the Great Hanshin-Awaji Earthquake (1995-1998). First of all, let us introduce the technique that supports the roof.

Salon in the south wing

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Roof viewed from the south of the balcony (4th floor)
"Rooftop design that reminds us of a summer hat"
It is pointed out that the roof of YODOKO Guest House is an interesting design. The motif of the shape is a summer hat. Look at the picture of the exterior view. Then, see the section view of the page above. You see? The framework from the rooftop to the ceiling is where you put your head in, and the eaves serve as the brim. Also, the geometrical pattern on the eaves is considered to be the ribbon around the brim. Speaking of a summer hat, it is used as a sunshade. Considering that this building was built for relief from the summer heat, we have to take our hat off to Wright for his humorous representation.
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*This article was written by Yodogawa Steel Works, under the supervision of Mr. Fumitaka Hirata of the Building Research Institute Foundation, which administrates the restoration and preservation of YODOKO Guest House.

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