Presciently translucent in Yokohama, 1891

Guedes, P. D. (2006) Presciently translucent in Yokohama, 1891. ARQ Architectural Research Quarterly, 9 1: 69-79. doi:10.1017/S1359135505000096

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Author Guedes, P. D.
Title Presciently translucent in Yokohama, 1891
Journal name ARQ Architectural Research Quarterly   Check publisher's open access policy
ISSN 1359-1355
Publication date 2006
Sub-type Article (original research)
DOI 10.1017/S1359135505000096
Open Access Status File (Author Post-print)
Volume 9
Issue 1
Start page 69
End page 79
Total pages 11
Editor R. Weston
Place of publication London, U.K.
Publisher Cambridge University Press
Collection year 2006
Language eng
Subject C1
310201 Building Science and Techniques
680599 Other
Formatted abstract
In 1891 Dr. Willem van der Heyden designed and built a remarkable house in the grounds of the Yokohama General Hospital.

His iron and glass building featured a starkly ‘modern’ light-filled interior. External walls of two glass skins contained between them a supersaturated solution of alum designed to harness phase change energy.

Incoming air was also filtered and warmed or cooled by carefully calibrated arrangements prior to entering the habitable space. Everything was designed from first principles and meticulously built and tested in a country that had only recently joined the 19th century.

This paper examines how a foreign doctor succeeded in constructing an unprecedented, environmentally advanced building and how his inventive ability to harness and integrate contemporary scientific ideas was crucial to its realization.

The doctor’s own writings invoke the authority of many leading experimenters on heat, radiation and bacteriology. The environmentally controlled, ferro-vitreous cities of science fiction were also acknowledged as inspiration for this house.

Meiji Japan’s, enthusiasm for Western industrialization and everything ‘new’, probably contributed to the experiment’s success. Despite this, van der Heyden’s innovations did not catch on.

This paper examines van der Heyden’s remarkable work and speculate on why it fell by the

Q-Index Code C1

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Created: Wed, 15 Aug 2007, 10:29:11 EST