The strength and durability of traditional Japanese joinery techniques are put to the test with Toyota’s ‘Setsuna,’ a vehicle made almost entirely from wood. No nails, screws or glue were needed to assemble the thousands of wooden parts that went into the creation of this prototype thanks to ‘okuriari’ and ‘kusabi,’ also known as housed dovetail joints and fox-wedged mortise and tenon joints.
Designed to be a family heirloom, the Setsuna proves that cars don’t have to be technologically advanced to be modern-day marvels. Gadgets come second to the beauty of the wood in this ten-foot-long two seater, which has 86 body panels made from Japanese cedar. These panels can be fitted and removed without fasteners, so the dovetailing and mortise joints can be maintained over time if they wear down.
In fact, if properly maintained, the car could last over one hundred years, says Toyota. “When we created the Setsuna, we envisaged a family pouring its love into it over generations so that the car gains an irreplaceable value. Continuous development is possible in the form of bonds between the car and the family, like the growth rings of a tree. To proceed with the development of a car utilizing the appeal of wood, we directly spoke with experts with wide-ranging knowledge, including carpenters specializing in temple and shrine construction and ship’s carpenters.”
It’s unclear just how this wood construction would hold up in an accident, and it’s probably not exactly street legal, but it sure is beautiful.
Nicknamed the Dr. Seuss Tower by nearby residents who can see it poking up from the treetops for miles, Alaska’s ’Goose Creek Tower’ is a kooky 8-story stack of cabins reaching up high enough to give its owner views of Mount McKinley. It’s been in various stages of completion for years, leading some to wonder whether it had been abandoned, and aerial footage taken last year made it an internet curiosity. Now, a documentary crew has spoken to the builder, a lawyer and self-proclaimed ‘frustrated architect,’ to get details.
In a two-minute feature called ‘We’re Not in Whoville Anymore,’ filmmakers Great Big Story interview Phillip Weidner about his highly unusual home design, which was built to the absolute maximum height without entering federal airspace. Weidner started with a 40 by 40-foot scribed log cabin, and realized that with the addition of some pillars, he could put a house on top of a house.
After that, he couldn’t seem to stop, and just kept going and going until it topped out at 185 feet in height. All of the framing is complete, but the tower is still without windows and finished surfaces, so it remains uninhabited. Weidner reports that a hidden escape tunnel at the basement level leads to a safe room.
“I wanted to be able to see, and that’s the reason I went up. You could see for at least three hundred miles. And of course when the northern lights are out, you can really see ‘em. I hope that Goose Creek Tower will inspire other people to do worthwhile things, not just in building but whatever they do with their life. And every time I go up there, it’s a different experience. It kind of give you a sense of the enormity of the universe.”