...in the bottom drawer
I knew I'd lose it so I put it in a safe place, and now I can't remember where it is.

currently stashed in: Cheshire Street, London
about me || email me || RSS feed || give me a present || A blog about urban planning, if that interests you

[more photos]

October 12, 2004 || 4:47 am

After another 12 hour day in the studio I'm unwinding in front of the, er, computer screen. It's a pretty intense process and absolutely fantastic how many ideas can be posited, explored, discarded or adopted within one day. Especially when all we're really dealing with is a very small box and a couple of porches. But with only $10,000 to spend on materials, every single decision has huge ramifications.

Today we met with a local contractor, Mike Thomas, who is a long-standing friend and helper to the Rural Studio. He's a pretty interesting guy, having started his own construction firm after working mainly in electrical and mechanical installation and with a great and encouraging interest in exploring unconventional materials and construction techniques. He built a rammed earth house designed by Steve Hoffman, a former Rural Studio tutor, and today was trying to persuade us that staw bale was the way forward. I'm not convinced, mainly because if this is to be a true prototype able to be recreated many times, I'm not sure how many contractors without his enthusiasm would really be willing to go out and find a load of straw bales when they could just build an ordinary stick frame house. But it was enormously helpful to have his input on how best to rationalise and streamline the building for minimum labour cost. However, our dreams of making this a house able to be built by two men took a bit of a knock when he said that he would put six men on for two months in order to build it. Optimistically, I think he's over-estimated, but we should probably take his word for it.

One of the great things about working here is being able to talk to people like Mike, or Johnny Parker, or Whitelaw Bailey in Sledge Hardware about everything from overriding concepts to the minutiae of what plumbing fixture we need to fix our shower. With their huge experience of building, they know far better than most architects how a building really works. And we can walk out onto the street and see how people have built here over the last 200 years, before going back to the computer lab and finding out what the latest high-tech thinking is, and drawing it all on AutoCAD.

Today's shocking discovery about life in Hale County is that 53% of single mothers here live below the poverty line - that is, earn less than $12,000 a year.



Post a Comment

My del.icio.us page

Developing [news]