Architecture & marriage

The rotten weather is fine for me because I’m well behind schedule in plant ordering and fence installation. This is the week for all that. The plants will be growing only slowly and the sheep will be less adventurous.

Mike Smith, from Incredible Edible, seems to be fully engaged now, which makes the delay worthwhile. He has walked the fields with me and my plan, made suggestions and improvements to the plant list and is considering how we can use their polytunnels for propagation. When the plants arrive and we have our planting days, the crew will be a lot more confident under Mike’s direction because he’s quite nonchalant about his knowledge of plants and ecology. So, that project is gaining momentum.

Having read Brunskill’s books which lay out the components of vernacular architecture, Alexander’s theories on architectural pattern languages are informing my design for Warland Farm. Much of his mathematical analysis and hypothesising is hogwash but I like:

  • design according to proven patterns
  • design for the events that are to take place
  • complexity provides interest
  • recognising the nameless quality of good architecture

among other bits.

Here’s the initial sketch for the One Planet building, based on that crab concept. I pushed the architects up the hill to this location because, even without Alexander, I wanted a venue for teaching about farm processes and working with its products. This will be one, the pigsty bakery will be the other. 

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One area I’ve been persuaded to look away from but now will turn back to designing is the yard. I envisaged a cloister along the barns and a matching structuring tucked under the opposite wall; the first to offer work and relaxation space in inclement weather, the latter to shelter wood, car bonnets, bikes etc while supporting photovoltaic cells. These would be linked, in style, to the nearby pigsty bakery including opportunities for whimsy such as platforms to view over the wall. I think whimsy is under-rated in creating that nameless quality.

Marriage hasn’t changed either of us much but it’s been a good excuse for being nicer to each other, especially when today’s budget review blew holes in some of our projects and could have turned ugly. Fortunately, by being lazy we have reduced the burn rate so we won’t get to the big-ticket item, the Great Barn, for a while. When we do get started, we’ll just have to take it steady and scavenge more of the materials. If there has to be a hiatus then I’ll write that book. Happy, twirly pictures attached.

Our discretionary, personal projects survived although I ditched “Build a Caterham Seven” in order to replace the camera kit I used to have in my design studio. I was just about to become a real portrait and landscape photographer when my gear got pinched. The sports car, an ambition held since I was twenty, sits uncomfortably with my eco-Warland life whereas creating art and craft pictures based on the area and our activities makes sense and might make some money. Another advantage is that I can tell everyone that I’m a photographer rather than my current profession—layabout. I’ve offered for cousin Chris, who can take a picture and is comfortable getting people to pose, to join in the learning process in case it turns out he could take pictures instead of going to the rigs.

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Yesterday, we moved Dave-next-door’s lathe and milling machine into place in his shed using the truck’s mighty lifting power. Soon, his metalwork shop should be functional so that’ll be a great advantage in making fittings and fixtures for the projects. I’m wondering what he’ll use the machines for, himself. He’s a lighting designer, for a big concern, with a racing car hobby but has just sold his car trailer. Might be that he just wanted to get his Dad’s machines into his shed but I hope he uses them and teaches me how to use them.

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