The Exhibit House
The architecture of the Exhibit House, called sukiya style, was used initially in small, unattached tea houses, and became popular in strolling garden buildings and in retreats for the Samurai class. Recognizable sukiya style elements are: roofs that combine copper shingles and clay tiles, shoji screens, located on either side of the large windows, with rama – transom window – above, and shita-ji mado – half round window covered by bamboo grillwork to your left as you view the stone garden. Shita-ji means foundation or base; mado is window.
The entrance doors are of redwood, as are most of the exterior trim and window bars. The floor is natural slate, except for the raised dais, which is polished granite. The ceiling and all cabinetry are made of straight grain, quarter sawn Douglas fir.
Shoji, found in Japanese residences, are traditionally covered with a paper known as shoji-gami. This paper is often referred to as “rice paper”, however, it is actually made from the pulp of the mulberry tree. The Exhibit House shoji are a “sandwich” of acrylic and mulberry paper.
The long alcove in Exhibit House is called a tokonoma, where in a typical Japanese home a kakemono (scroll), ikebana (Japanese flower arrangement), or bonsai (miniature trees or plants potted as they appear in nature) – would be displayed.
The wooden past to the far right of the tokonoma is the tokobashira. Traditionally, this is the first upright post placed in the ground when a home is built. The young, peeled tree, grown especially for this purpose is kita yama sugi (north mountain cedar).
The sliding door pulls on the cabinets – hikite – were hand forged in Tsuyama City, Japan. The slight imperfections are an important aesthetic in Japanese design, which stresses the irregular and the natural rather than the mechanical and manufactured-granite.
Spatial relationships are also a very Japanese concept. It is important for each visitor to move through the Exhibit House and “discover” its many special areas, rather than to see the whole interior at a glance. You walk through the rooms, laid out on a diagonal, to enter the main viewing room. The feeling of openness is achieved by combining the interior and the exterior views.