Wood-Fired Barrel Oven Workshop

Build an Earthen Oven

Natural Building is the art and craft of using locally available, ecologically-sensitive, minimal-impact materials to create durable, beautiful, and functional objects and environments. Building materials and techniques often include cob, earth, straw, wood, stone, as well as salvaged and repurposed materials.

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Sweetwater Farm Schematic Site Plan

My family is exploring the purchase of a 16 acres horse farm in Swannanoa, NC, adjacent to Warren Wilson College. As a part of the exploration, I developed a conceptual site plan based on converting the use of the land from pasture to orchards, gardens and food forest or edible forest gardens.

The organizing principle revolves around establishing a ‘home zone’ around the main house and adjacent outdoor spaces, circled by a row of planted trees. Three additional zones or rings radiate out from this central space to create a framework to develop gardens, orchards, food forests and reforestation areas over time. The site plan represents thinking on the time-scale of forest, allowing for an organic unfolding of development, responding to the needs of the land and the people inhabiting it.

cold weather, progress

the weather has turned downright chilly over the past week or two. but progress continues, and i’ve reached a couple more milestones in the construction process. the metal roofing is complete and the space is fully dried-in.

i’m choosing to install the wood siding as a rain screen. basically, instead of mounting the siding boards directly over top of the building paper, there is an air gap between them. this allows the wood siding to breath and dry out more quickly and easily. this method provides a more durable envelope. the wood furring strips that will hold the siding off of the sheathing are installed and i’ll begin installing the siding shortly. i’m pretty excited to see how it turns out. stay tuned.

hand toolswane edgeyellow poplar timberready for sidingready for sidingwindow groupentry porchredwoodporch window frameframe ready for installframe detail

tupelo sunset shoot

i was outside this afternoon on another amazing, though perhaps unseasonably warm day, as the sun began to set and the light began to do that thing. i ran around for i little while and made some fun photos. below are the results. enjoy!

leaf fire

Eyes, a Raincoat, and a Hat

PS1 is progressing nicely. This has been a big week for continued evolution and transformation:

On Monday I  cut the openings for all window openings, which lightened up the space inside tremendously. It’s exciting to see how open and airy it feels. And the aspect of looking out from within emerged for the first time. Imagining the outside context, and how on a house on wheels, this is much more of a fluid and changing scene. An interesting notion that sparks novelty and excitement in this architect mind.

Once I cut the openings for the windows, it was a quick dash to install the windows and weatherproof the envelope asap. after some steady rain, a little water, some head scratching, troubleshooting, and finding a flaw in my weatherproofing, i’m fairly confident that the little house is completely “dried in” or rainproofed.

Yesterday and this morning brought the addition of a nice red-orange metal roof. Quite dashing I think.

A big thank you to Michael Mooney for the assist on installing the metal panels!

Process photo gallery here.

PS1 New Roof

Dried In

Framing is complete and the structure is dried in. Good thing on a rainy, rainy day like today. I’ve been working on some of the details that are about to be installed such as the entry door and salvaged redwood decking.

It’s finally to the point where I can get a clear sense of how big the space really is. It’s quite exciting!