Over the past few years, I’ve noticed charred wood siding cropping up more frequently in residential work. Known as shou-sugi-ban, this traditional Japanese technique can create a really interesting depth of exterior color and texture. David Jameson, FAIA, used it to strong effect on the Dahlonega House, which we mentioned and showed in a recent story on his firm.

Architect Dan Rockhill always seems to anticipate trends; he used a charred Douglas fir rainscreen back in 2010 on the Prescott Passive House (shown at left) by Studio 804, his design-build class at the University of Kansas. He hasn’t worked with it since, but, he says, “that is no reflection on the material but rather my preference to always push toward things we have not done before…If the number of inquiries I receive about it is any indication, many people are using it or considering it.” He recommends maintaining the wood with periodic applications of oil to keep up the intensity of the color.

Jay Austin, a HUD employee who recently designed and built his own tiny house in Washington, D.C., says he loves the mutable nature of its charred-wood skin. “It changes colors more than any other type of siding, during the day and when the sun is setting,” he says.