Building a house is a big frigging deal! The Real Estate Blog says that 2.1 million houses were built in the U.S. last year, and that half of them are now sitting empty. I don’t even want to think about the cost to the environment and the boost in our national carbon footprint that this created. Why would anyone want to add to this waste and bloat? Why do I?
Because there has got to be a better way to create shelter, and I want to help discover and promote the methods that get us all under roofs that are not held up by toothpick two-by-fours and ticky-tacky. I want to sculpt a living space that lets me breathe and grow without breaking the bank to heat and cool. (I’m talking about Mother Nature’s bank book as well as my own here.) When you think about it, we humans have a very narrow temperature range that we thrive in – and what we are doing to the planet to maintain that tiny margin in our buildings is not sustainable. Not even close.
So, Doug and I have spent several years trolling everything we can find on green building, and stockpiling ideas.
I just about jumped out of my skin when I opened up my November/December issue of 2007 Natural Home and flipped to the featured home. I loved its gentle curves and was thrilled to see that it got that shape from whole, unmilled trees – not the kings of the forest, but “Charlie Brown” trees – the smaller trees that are crowding every woods. Small whole trees, I learned are much stronger than milled boards, which have had their complex pattern of fibers slashed into interchangeable building units.
When I read that Roald Gundersen, who designed and built this house, lives outside LaCrosse just two hours from Madison, I whooped so loud that I woke my aged golden retriever.
Weeding the woods and leaving it in better health than before while building a beautiful house using slow architecture. How win-win is that? (Check out a You-tube video of Roald explaining here.)
Last year we visited Roald at his home and workplace, tucked at the end of a winding road. He just completed a site visit of our land this spring, and will incorporate trees that need to be thinned from our own 44 acres into our house. The time table is: plan in 2009, prepare in 2010-2011 and build in 2012. The slow architecture gears are turning. See more about this in my May blog, When.
Note: I am changing my posting schedule from Monday-Wednesday-Friday to Tuesdays and Fridays so I can give each post enough time. My next post on Tuesday will be about how what we have learned about climate change is influencing our own woods management.