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œChapter10œ
Plan of the porch on the 1st floor
"Masonry structure" and reinforcement construction that enhance Wright's unique design
Pillar of "masonry structure" in the porch of the 1st floor
(north side)

RC structure that also has an element of "masonry structure"

As you already know, YODOKO Guest House is a reinforced concrete (RC) building. However, there are some parts, where it looks like stones were just stacked. The pillars on the four corners of the porch on the first floor are one such example you will see at first. Several parts of YODOKO Guest House also adopted "masonry structure," which has an element of "stone piling." Of course, stones will collapse easily if they are simply stacked. Therefore, it is necessary to use a reinforcement method. The ordinary reinforcement method at the time of the completion of YODOKO Guest House (the end of the Taisho period) was connecting stone blocks with dowels (short iron bars) before stacking. However, in YODOKO Guest House, other than some exceptions, a completely different construction method was adopted.


Integration of stone and concrete reinforces the fragility

What kind of reinforcement method was used for the "masonry structure" of YODOKO Guest House? Simply put, concrete was filled into the frame made with stones (usually wood boards were used). By integrating stones with concrete, the fragility of piled stones was eliminated and the design was left intact. (See below.)


Wright's unique design supported by a splendid construction method

By the way, did this construction method compensate for the fragility of "masonry structure"? This had been identified during the repair work after the Great Hanshin-Awaji Earthquake (1995-1998). Some parts of stones dropped off or were damaged, but all pillars escaped destruction. One of the characteristic features of Wright's architecture is that Oyaishi stone*1, which he went to the length of inventing a reinforcement method completely different from the conventional method. Wright also used Oyaishi stone for important structural support columns and carved original geometric patterns on them. We imagine Wright did that because he wanted to appeal to his unique design.

*1 Quarried around Oya-machi, Utsunomiya City, Tochigi Prefecture and used in many interior and exterior decorations of YODOKO Guest House. Stones are carved with delicate geometric patterns. This stone was also used in the old Imperial Hotel, another renowned work by Wright.

Reinforcement method and representative parts of "masonry structure"
Pillars at the four corners of the porch on the 1st floor, the doorway to the salon on the 2nd floor (picture), the center pillar, etc.
Pier studs and eaves of the balcony side of the Japanese-style room on the 3rd floor (picture), windowsills, circumference of walls, etc.
Pillar in the doorway of the balcony on the 4th floor (picture), the pillar of the balcony in the south side of the 1st floor, side walls of the salon on the 2nd floor (both sides of couches)


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View from the west side of the guest house
"Eaves' horizontal lines that remind us of terraced rice fields"
YODOKO Guest House has its floors horizontally arranged in a staircase pattern, along the slope of a small hill. The Oyaishi stones on the eaves of each floor enhance the horizontal lines and increase the visual stability. Now, let's have a small quiz. What do the horizontal lines in a staircase pattern suggest? Aren't you reminded of beautiful Japanese "terraced rice fields," that make use of a mountain landscape? Wright is said to have been visited and traveled around Japan many times. Considering that, it comes as no surprise that he would have seen those "terraced rice fields" from a train window, or during his walks and got his ideas for the design of the guest house.
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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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