29 November 2020
Cottonwood Cabin Notes

Our cottonwood will be heavy and thick. I think of it like stone. 

Expanded log construction reminds me of the small barns found near Zumthor’s thermal baths. The muscular stone base expands to receive the lighter wood insertion, while the roof seems to hover, suggesting a clerestory...

Barns near Vals, Switzerland

...perhaps a clerestory like the one in this abbey, where a wooden ceiling floats above rough stone blocks.

Cistercian Abbey, Texas

Yet our project is a cabin on a slope. This house, with extended gable and covered deck, has been on my mind.

Manfred Kovatsch, Cornelius Kolig House, Austria, 1975-77

But is it not a little unsatisfying how it touches the ground? If our cottonwood is stone, what to do about all that heaviness? Not to mention this particular stone cannot be allowed to touch the ground for it will rot immediately. How can we put all that heaviness on thin wooden stilts? Rather, I think of stout Minoan columns...

Palace of Knossos, Crete

Even these funny cabins in Tbilisi, Georgia, seem more convinced about their weightiness.

Giorgi Chitaia Open Air Museum of Ethnography, Tbilisi, Georgia

How about something truly thick? For a moment I was distracted by the idea of stacking columns. I decided against it. Maybe I got scared.
 1. Scarpa, Villa Ottolenghi 2. Ledoux, Salt Works 3. Unknown. 4. Unknown 

Perhaps we can take a cue from this bat house to find our Minoan columns. Each column is adorned with a sort of capital: an overhang that functions as a drip edge while keeping the rodents from climbing up.

Perky Bat Tower, Airport Road, Key West, Monroe County, FL . “An unusual structure built to house bats as part of a local experiment in mosquito control.”

To restate the problem, I think the story of cottonwood as stone is about thinness inhabiting thickness, lightness inhabiting heaviness...

1. Unknown 2. Barns near Vals, Switzerland 3. Haus Knoll, Werner Tscholl 

...with a floating roof...

1. Asplund, Woodland Chapel at Skogskapellet 2. Unknown 3. Mackay-Lyons, Bigwin Island

...hovering above a mass standing on stilts...

1. Glen Murcutt 2. Tbilisi 3. Bat House

...while on a slope.

A first sketch.

And a chainsaw model!

Footnotes / unfiled

Expanded Log Construction, Log Cabin Secrets

Susumu Takasuga, Seitogakusha schoolhous, 1970s

Touching the ground. 1. Unknown; 2. Philip Johnson;  3. Go’o Shrine

Jardín de Invierno, Magdalena Donoso, Chile