June 23, 2011

Southwest from the Interior

It wasn't easy, but it felt good to finally get cob on the walls above the large window.  Over 900-lbs of clay/straw mix was applied just to cover above this opening (see the wet - dark colored earth in the photo). 

Supporting a portion of this mass of cob, a concrete lintel spans the above the 6"-wide rough frame, but only for that width.  Across the rest of the main wall's 2-foot thickness, are oak and mesquite logs, debarked to expose their attractive hardwood interior. 

The oak beam arching high over the window is now elegantly integrated into the earthen wall, adding to the fingerprint that will make up this structure's architecture.

To the right, the mesquite beams spanning a 3-foot thick stone/cob passageway, of a design inspired by Anasazi builders over 1,000 years ago in northwest New Mexico; a the center of their world - Chaco Canyon.

The 3-foot thickness of that west-interior wall means a tremendous amount of work mixing and hauling cob onto that portion of the building's wall.  However, the 3-foot thickness is more than required for structural support. All that effort is critical in achieving the aesthetic for that space, and as integrated into the overall structure's design.  I call this wide space between the two main rooms of the structure - a 'passageway'.  That's the difference in 'feel', a thick wall achieves, compared to a thin wall.  A passageway represents an opportunity to make something more meaningful by utilizing that thickness in the wall as an important part of the architecture.  Since each room will have it's own feel, the passageway must be part of that transition between the 'feel' of each room.  

When I see that passageway design in Anasazi architecture, I always sense that it must of had some meaning.  We can only speculate; but someday when the construction is done and I'm 'in' that space; I'll hoping to gain some insights into why the Anasazi designed and built the way they did.  Maybe I want to feel how the Anasazi must have felt when passing between sacred rooms in their great structures at Chaco

For this portion of the studio (so far), I am pleased at the 'look' that originated from ideas when selecting a particular beam for that location. 

As building continues I develop ideas in both practical and artistic designs.  When constructing a building, you must have a balance between the two, or you end up with a building that's either not practical; or not artistic.

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