natural materials (281)

“Tree of Life” Window

From Uncle Mud, who wrote: “I’m off to the mountains of Jamaica to teach mud building again next week. The village of Nine Mile is very sweet to us. The little kids call me ‘Meesta Mood’. People there make $20 a day but a sack of cement costs $10 so no one every finishes their house. When we were there in 2018 we taught them how to make windows out of bottles that get thrown by the side of the road, putting up a rough ‘Tree of Life’ window in the dead of night before our flight home. When we came back in 2019 we were treated to this lovely view of the finished window.”

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SunRay’s Treehouse Masterpiece

Just when you think maybe SunRay has done all he’s gonna do — like major buildings — he pulls off this wild soaring, spiraling, 4-story log-framed structure in the woods. The spiral turrets up top are just insane. I mean, holy shit! SunRay rolls on, a true Spirit of Nature in his designs, carried out with incredible (and intuitive) building skills.

I wrote Uncle Mud (aka Chris McClellan) about SunRay’s latest (I’d seen a pic on @cabinporn) and he responded:

Lloyd,

I was there in 2018 during the rebuild after the fire so I don’t have anything newer than framing, which I have enclosed. Bonnie sends this video. I’m off to the mountains of Jamaica to teach mud building again next week. The village of Nine Mile is very sweet to us. The little kids call me “Meesta Mood”. People there make $20 a day but a sack of cement costs $10 so no one every finishes their house. When we were there in 2018 we taught them how to make windows out of bottles that get thrown by the side of the road, putting up a rough “Tree of Life” window in the dead of night before our flight home. When we came back in 2019 we were treated to this lovely view of the finished window.

(I’ll put up Mud’s photos in a later post.)

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House Made of Hemp Panels in UK

Practice Architecture’s house is built from the plant growing in the fields around it.

Flat House, as the home on Margent Farm is called, is the conversion of a steel-framed agricultural shed, within which a new structure has been made of prefabricated timber-framed cassettes that were filled with a mulch of hemp, lime and water known as hempcrete. Once the mulch was dry they were erected into thick, highly insulating walls that also hold the building up. The exterior is covered in corrugated panels, which at first glance looks like the cement cladding typical of farm sheds. It is actually made of fibres from the outer coating of hemp stalks combined with resin taken from agricultural waste. It has a livelier texture and a more translucent quality than cement.

theguardian.com/artanddesign/2019/dec/07/flat-house-margent-farm-cambridgeshire-hemp-practice-architecture-carbon-energy

From Maui Surfer

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Tiny Curved House in Taiwan

Just ran across this photo from a blog post in 2013. It was sent us by Island Woman MJ. She wrote the photographer (whose name we didn’t get), who replied (Google Translate wasn’t that good 6 years ago):

Hello

Thank you like my photos

This little house in a green park

The park is located in Yilan, Taiwan

Taiwan is a rainy island

After the rain from upstream many Driftwood

There are several college students using driftwood and some abandoned building materials to build a small house

This cute little house is now the Green Park show

Taiwan is a mountainous and river country inhabited by friendly people

I hope you have the opportunity to travel to this country

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Little Log Cabin in Nevada Desert

Log cabin with hip roof, central Nevada. Squared-off logs, nice joinery. I shot this in the early ’90s, on one of my 4×4 trips in search of remote hot springs in the American southwest. It was out in the middle of nowhere, making it even more special.

Note tacked-on addition in back. Even with that, the simplicity and beauty of this little building shine through. Note also floor joist tenons routed in to bottom girder/log.

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This little beauty down a side street in Torrey, Utah, stopped me in my tracks. It’s in our book Home Work. The log work is perfect — a master builder at work. (Check out notched-in log partition in center, and notched-in cross-ties — look at second horizontal log below eave.) Perfect proportions. No architect in sight. Shot in 1989.

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Optical Illusionary Carpentry in British Columbia

Lloyd: greetings from Victoria BC. Some five years ago I shot this pic … up north of here. I was up there to play at the island art festival. It’s likely that you have been there on your long and winding road. We took a little drive and when I saw this fabulous wall I shouted … STOP. I jumped out and grabbed the shot. I didn’t ask the owners permission as there seemed to be no one at home. I rediscovered the shot and have been admiring it again. Much love and gratitude to you.

Stuart

I wrote Stuart and asked if this was a painted-on optical illusion and he replied:

“No it’s not a painting. I walked up to it, sized it up, started laughing, and it’s just a very well made optical illusion in wood. Gobsmacked … I was a little.”

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Renovation of Timber Frame Church in Santa Barbara

Bob Easton, who designed (and did all the hand-lettered headlines and drawings of small buildings) in Shelter with me in 1973, has been an architect ever since, and today sent me this note, along with this photo:

“…got busy this week, in the middle of renovating 120-year-old Episcopal church here in Montecito.”

The church was apparently designed by Arthur Benton in 1900.

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My Little Hut in the Woods

I live in a little Co-Housing on a farm just outside a small town in Switzerland. In Spring 2017, I sold my the little caravan that I was living in and started sleeping at the edge of the forest 200 yards from the farm, under some huge beech trees. By the end of Summer, I was feeling really at home there and decided I would make myself a home, so I could stay there in Winter.

I could already see the place for my shelter, hugging in between a small ash tree and an overgrown pile of dirt. So I started digging, using only a knife, a folding saw, and my bare hands. My inspiration was the debris hut, a shelter i know from the wilderness school.

The main structure is made of bent hazel branches, which looks like a huge streamlined basket. This a covered with jute bags, than a thick layer of pressed straw and a thick plastic lining normally used for ponds. All this is covered with dirt.

The entrance is formed by two well-chosen bent branches and around it, I closed the gap with adobe and some embedded glass bottles for light. The door was then closed by a few layers of woolen blankets.

Heat is provided by two small burners using denatured alcohol. It was warm and cosy this first winter. And even without heating, temperatures inside never fell below 7°C (44°F) inside, with -10° (14°F) outside, the warmth from the ground keeping the interior warmer.

In 2018, I added three layers of mud plastering to the inside walls. I dug the floor deeper and added a clay layer with gravel on top, covered by an earthen floor, sealed with linseed oil and wax. A small rocket mass heater now provides heating. With all the thermal mass from the mud, it now takes a little longer to heat up, but then keeps the warmth for more than a day.

The newest addition is a double-glassed door with a wooden frame perfectly fitted to the door shape, providing a lot more light inside when I use the space during the day.

All in all, the experience of building my own shelter, with not much more than my bare hands and what materials I could find in the vicinity alone was worth the effort. I think it is one of the most basic instincts of all living beings to make their own shelter, and we humans are no exception.

–Martin Fuchs

Article in Swiss newspaper (You may need to use an incognito window to get past the web block.)

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