New Chalk Pastels! I’m as excited as Jack Kerouac just before he got on the road!
This weekend was full of work . I’m not complaining. But stating a fact. Part of the work is a modest design proposal for an addition to a house.
There are always lessons in everything we do. And this little design has reminded me of a few things I have known. Confirmed things I know even in a cobwebbed corner of my mind:
1. It is necessary to know when to respond with modesty over exuberance, no matter how talented a designer you are. And perhaps the lesson I needed to be reminded of. There is a certain critical effort that must be made to design thoughtfully while at the same time working from a place of restraint . Not all creative answers should be dominate , some should be quiet and simply fit in with what came before. This is the case for the addition I am working on.
The existing structure is a dynamic , yet simple, 1970 contemporary house. It’s dynamism is in it’s sweeping roof that is a singular gesture of form. On the rural landscape it’s primarily living area is visible as a single sharp pitched shed roof reaching from the ground and extending to the sky.
To take away this dynamic and singular move from the primary living volume by way of a bedroom addition would be disrespectful to the hierarchy of architectural expression . The best response is one of support. Of course making the overall building better, but not by making an over-expressive addition. Instead by making a better whole.
2. Most architects and designers work today with the use of the computer for 2-d drawings and models . And this had been my primary method for a decade . But with this small work I thought all handwork would be best, and faster. Because I teach architecture students I am well aware of their current use of computers, 3-d modeling and laser cutters. And I recognize the benefits of these tools, and use them myself. But the work this past weekend using pencil , paper, cutting blades and chipboard also reminded me how critical it is for creators to use their hands to understand their ideas, their work. From this process a clarity arrives, like the clarity we gain through concentrated meditation. The slowing down of the process in exchange for the immediacy of current technology asks us to think and be sure and clear of our decisions. The tactility of hand to brain connects us to the world in it’s reality like feet to a hiking trail, bringing connection and surety.
The process also reminded me of all the things I am capable of with my hands, the versatility of expression, creating, and making . And the deep knowledge I have collected over thirty years with my brain connected to the actions of my hands that allow me to make the art I currently pursue .
Mind to hand. We are makers in the world . There is no better substitution.
Saturday afternoon was stunningly beautiful and warm. Warm for the mountains in Montana. A great time for being outside to work on the new studio. This object of work was to install the tubing for the radiant heat concrete floor. This is the last step before the slab pour and getting the frame up! Yay!
I hadn’t installed one of these for several years. The work was quick and smooth . The best new add to the method was the spinner for the Pex tubing which kept in from unfurling out of control. The greatest assistant ever…Noel who patiently watched and waited for me to throw the ball for her.
The concrete blankets have come off. The giant hole has been back filled with gravel and dirt and leveled…and the plumber has roughed in the drains and pipes that will soon be buried in the concrete slab.
Rigid insulation has been set on top of the gravel, along with wire mesh. And tomorrow it will be my turn for some work. I will be adding the tubes on top of the wire mesh that will serve as the loops that will be buried in the concrete slab to create a radiant floor.
There will be no selfies made of this process. So if you want to see the action you can come on out and take pictures . And maybe tie a little wire. If you are a past Remote Studio student you probably had a similar experience when we formed concrete for your project!
Lightly attached to their hosts, bromeliads were everywhere once I realized they were there . On the trees. Seeming to hover in the air. And then I found a few in the ground, a little careful observation and I realized they had been knocked from the trunks by the resident black bears. Yes! In Florida the bears are in the wilderness , too! Such awesomeness is in the World!
The crew arrived after all the warm spring like days we have had. Winter has returned up the canyon. Form work for foundation walls were set and poured while I sat inside nursing the flu that invaded my body.
These foundation walls now poured and shrouded in wrap for warmth during curing makes explicit why it costs more to build in the cold climate of the north vs the warmth of the south. Warmth means more shallow frost depth , means no foundation walls, just a simple poured slab.
But we get snow flakes, and ski days, and a reason for hot chocolate.