Shou Sugi Ban | The Japanese Tradition of Charred Cedar


The front side Montauk Beach House No.2 with a walkway made in stone

Utilizing modern practices but drawing from ancient techniques, we used the Japanese art of Shou Sugi Ban, or charred cedar, for the inventive re-envisioning of Montauk Beach House No. 2, a 1970s “upside down” house in Montauk. Originated in Japan in the 18th century, this traditional method involves charring the wood, cooling the wood, cleaning off excess soot or debris, then finally finishing with an oil.  

Defying the famous notion that fire and wood are an incompatible pair, Shou Sugi Ban is one of the most highly sustainable techniques for exteriors of architectural buildings prone to water, moisture, and insect damage. Always considering questions of sustainability and the lifecycle of materials, we turned to this tried-and-true method passed down for generations in Japan. 

Slats of Japanese art of Shou Sugi Ban, or charred cedar

 A thin layer of carbon forms when the wood is burnt, acting like a stain or sealant, but without the harmful chemicals to our environment and us. The benefits of this ancient technique are compelling in more ways than one, both aesthetically and practically. The natural durability of the siding guarantees a long life span with the possibility to be recycled and repurposed for a second life. 

The facade of large vertical window in Montauk Beach House No.2


Montauk Beach House No. 2 and it's black cedar siding with a pointed roof among clear blue skys and a winter landscape

The bold black finish brings maximum effect to the minimal design of Montauk Beach House No. 2. Clean, distinct lines emerge from the charring thus enhancing the rhythm and texture of the cedar wood. 

With a striking exterior built from nature and its elements, learn more about the serene Montauk home inspired by the ancient Japanese tradition of Shou Sugi Ban.