Todai-ji Nandaimon

Todai-ji Nandaimon

Architect
Studio 3.2
Location
London, United Kingdom | View Map
Project Year
2015
Category
Exhibitions
Stories By
Studio 3.2

James Jones & Sons

Todai-ji Nandaimon

Studio 3.2 as Architects

The architecture students in studio 3.2 at Kingston University, led by tutors Simon Jones and Takeshi Hayatsu, have made their own interpretation of the 11th century massive wooden temple gate, Todai-ji Nandaimon, Nara Japan. This studio’s focus on craft has been explored through studying miyadaiku, the Japanese craft of carpentry. The Japanese are masters of advanced joinery, something the students experienced first-hand on their field trip to Japan in October 2014.


Studio 3.2’s interpretation of the temple gate includes half of the original structure; the 18 columns are reduced to 9. The structure is about 5.5 meters tall, and uses the same bracketing system as the original building. The bracketing arms sits in the column with a notch, and they’re tightened with a wedge hammered in above or underneath the beam. The project was not only about replicating the original temple wooden structure, but also to work with others as a team, to understand what it means to build something large together. 22 students from the Studio worked intensely in the university’s 3D Workshop. Over 3000 components were prefabricated in the workshop over two weeks in January 2015, produced from Scottish spruce, provided by James Jones and Sons. Standard modern sizes of 2x2”, 2x3”, in addition to the corrugated steel roof, provided by EuroClad, contributes - to a contemporary interpretation. Many of the components were tested using prototypes and jigs before commencing the mass production. The construction logistics and health and safety issues relating to the project were addressed throughout the process, from the designing of the structure, the testing of mock ups, and the construction on site. The structural frame of the temple itself was used to support a temporary working platform to work at height safely.


The installation of the structure at 1:5 was completed in May 2015 in the garden of Dorich House in Kingston Hill, and it forms part of London Festival of Architecture Todai-ji Nandaimon is the Great South Gate of the Todai-ji. It burnt down in 1180, only 400 years since it’s founding. The new framework was erected in 1199, a reconstruction led by Buddhist monk Chogen (重源). Chogen made several pilgrimages to China, and learnt to master the latest knowledge and information from the continent. He utilised a new style of timber construction; the Chinese method called Daibutsu-yo which is characterised by horizontal beams mortised through massive round columns creating stacked cantilevered supports the overhanging roof eaves.


Todai-ji Nandaimon has five bays across, the central three bays being the entrance and exit section. There is a bracketing system to support the rafters on the deep eaves, which calls for nine layers of bracket arms under each projecting eave. Between the tiers of bracket arms are carefully lined bearing blocks, which serve as connectors and support the beams, which project further out as they go upwards. The brackets are set into holes cut into the column and the tie beams are thread all the way through the columns. This system provides great lateral stability, a requirement in this place where earthquakes happen on a daily basis. The temple gate is a listed UNESCO World Heritage Site as ‘Historic Monument of Ancient Nara’.

Kingston University students use James Jones' timber to re-create a Japanese temple gate

James Jones & Sons as Manufacturers

The architecture students from Studio 3.2 at Kingston University led by tutors Takeshi Hayatsu and Simon Jones will collaborate with Stanley Picker Gallery to install a wooden temple structure in the garden of Dorich House, Kingston Hill. Coinciding with an event called ‘History in Making’ at Dorich House in February 2015, this is the second occasion that the Studio will work with Stanley Picker Gallery to build temporary structures for local communities in the Kingston area.


The Studio has been building temporary wooden structures for last three years, as part of the on-going investigation into timber construction. All based upon historic timber structures from around the world, to date they have included, a footbridge from Kintaikyo, Iwakuni Japan, the spire formwork from Salisbury Cathedral, England, and the Woodland Cemetery Chapel, Stockholm Sweden. This year, the Studio will build an interpretation of the Temple Gate from Todaiji Nandaimon, Nara Japan.


Todaiji Nandaimon gate in Nara is an enormous wooden structure built in 1199, under the direction of the Buddhist monk Chogen (重源). Chogen utilised the Chinese style of timber construction method called Daibutsu-yo, characterised by horizontal beams mortised through massive round columns creating stacked cantilevered supports the overhanging roof eaves. It is a listed UNESCO World Heritage Site as ‘Historic Monument of Ancient Nara’.


The Studio plan to build half of Nandaimon at 1:5 scale using standard treated timber sections without nails or screws. The original building has 18 solid timber columns that are almost 1m in diameter and over 20m tall. The Studio’s version will have 9 columns on a 2m square footprint supporting a roof 5.5m above ground level. The timber will be Scottish spruce and has once again been generously donated by James Jones and Sons, who grow and harvest spruce from a sustainably managed forests in Scotland.


The temple structure will provide a shelter in the garden of Dorich House once it is installed. The project is not only for the third year students to learn about traditional Japanese architecture through making, but also for a wider community beyond the university to enjoy the beautiful orchard garden at Dorich House.


Product Spec Sheet

ElementBrand
Donator - metal roofEuroclad
ManufacturersJames Jones & Sons
Donator - cateringMaximum Taste
Product Spec Sheet
Donator - metal roof
Manufacturers
Donator - catering
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