Beautiful Bithry

Bithry Inlet, at the mouth of Wapengo Lake, on the Far South Coast of New South Wales, is another favourite beauty spot in Summer.BlogBithry20%IMG_8810 BlogBithry20%IMG_8837Its shallow waters are perfect for families with young children, as well as fishermen (who catch bream, salmon, mulloway and flathead) and birdwatchers.BlogBithry20%IMG_8815BlogBithry20%IMG_8851BlogBithry20%IMG_8881 In the photo above is a lone puffer fish, while the photos below shows a congress of Pied Oystercatchers, discussing the latest weather!BlogBithry2015-03-08 12.10.22BlogBithry2015-03-08 12.09.16 Here is a photo of our map to give you an idea of its location!BlogBithry20%IMG_8898

This area also has an interesting historical component, of which we were unaware on our first two visits. We always knew that the land adjoining Bithry Inlet, the property called Penders, had been donated by Ken Myers and Sir Roy Grounds to the New South Wales Government for incorporation into Mimosa Rocks National Park, but did not realize that it contained a number of significant structures and areas that the general public could explore, as indicated by the map on the interpretive signs at the site:BlogBithry2017-07-25 13.17.00BlogBithry2017-07-25 13.04.57 They include: the Myer House and precinct (though this is off-limits when booked out in holiday times); the Barn and Geodesic Dome; the Bum Seat, The Point, the picnic table and various sculptures and structures like the old Wind Tower; the Forest Plantation; the Orchard and Lake; and the various coastal walks, including a 2 Km walk to Middle Beach.BlogBithry2017-07-25 13.14.44BlogBithry2017-07-25 13.14.49 Each area is well-signposted with interpretive signs seen above (which were produced by The Interpretive Design Company, based on NPWS brand templates, and can also be accessed on http://interpretivedesign.com.au/portfolio/wayfinding/wayfinding-signs/. They give maps and information about the history and all the personalities involved. Here is a brief summary!

Kenneth Baillieu Myers (1921-1992) was the Director and Chairman of the famous Myer Emporium, which had been established by his father Sidney, a Russian immigrant, in Melbourne in 1911. His background and the development of this iconic business is an amazing story in itself. See: http://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/myer-simcha-sidney-7721.

Like his father, Kenneth was a successful businessman, a patron of the arts, humanities and sciences and a great philanthropist, being heavily involved with and donating to a wide number of institutions, including:

The Howard Florey Institute for medical science research;

Canberra’s National Library, of which he was chairman from 1974 to 1982;

The National Capital Planning Committee;

The Australian Universities Commission;

The Australian Broadcasting Commission, of which he was chairman from 1983 to 1986; and

The National Gallery of Victoria and the Victorian Arts Centre, which he chaired from 1965 to 1989.

For more information about Kenneth, it is worth reading his biography, The Many Lives of Kenneth Myer by Sue Ebury 2008. See: https://www.mup.com.au/books/9780522855463-the-many-lives-of-kenneth-myer , as well as : http://www.theaustralian.com.au/archive/lifestyle/life-in-the-business-of-giving/news-story/89849fe8aa80c5bcc133ba4bc4e5e074.

During his time at the National Gallery of Victoria, he developed a close friendship with Sir Roy Grounds, the architect of the Victorian Arts Centre, built in 1968. They shared each other’s visions and design philosophies, as well as a love of nature, conservation and creativity.

Sir Roy Burman Grounds (1905-1981) was a pivotal figure in the development of Modernism in Australian house design. See: http://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/grounds-sir-roy-burman-12571. Famous for the design of the Victorian Arts Centre, which won the Royal Australian Institute of Architecture Gold Medal in 1968, he received a knighthood in 1969. He was fascinated by idealistic geometric forms and strongly believed in nature as a central influence in his creative process, both tenets which he was able to fully explore in the building of his structures at Penders.

Roy Grounds initially purchased the 544 acre (224 hectares) property in May 1964, but he and Ken Myers became tenants in common with equal shares in 1966. The land, which stretched from Bithry Inlet south to Middle Beach, was predominantly covered in spotted gum and mahogany forest with an understorey of macrozamias, though much of it had been cleared to graze dairy cattle. For historical information about the property, see: http://www.environment.nsw.gov.au/resources/parks/cmpFinalPenders02Historical.pdf. By January 1965, the Myers and Grounds families were camping at Penders.BlogBithry2017-07-25 15.27.15The first structure built at Penders was a simple slab seat at The Point, affording panoramic views over the sea and entrance to Bithry Inlet (first photo) and back over the inlet to Wapengo Lake (second photo).BlogBithry2017-07-25 17.00.52BlogBithry2017-07-25 13.33.31 The seat was built from 1964-1965 from slabs, salvaged from an enormous tree felled before their arrival at Penders, with small log rounds acting as low stools and tables.BlogBithry2517-12-27 11.32.26In 1965, Roy Grounds submitted plans for a barn,which was built with the help of locals, Bob Hunter and Nev Whittle, and which Roy and his wife, Betty, then proceeded to use as a holiday house. It’s a delightful structure and is also known locally as The Tepee!BlogBithry2017-07-25 13.34.56BlogBithry2017-07-25 13.22.20 Based on a nonagon (nine sides), The Barn was built from spotted gum logs, cut on site and treated with an early version of the Tanalith process, while the floor is made of small timber rounds from off-cuts, thus reducing waste (second photo below).BlogBithry2017-07-25 13.18.00BlogBithry2017-07-25 17.12.38The walls and ceiling are formed by bright yellow blinds, which were raised and lowered with ropes and pulleys, to control light, weather and cross-ventilation and allow a harmonious union between nature and the built environment. They billow like sails in the wind and at night were a canvas for red and gold reflections from the flickering fire!BlogBithry2017-07-25 13.22.50Originally, the barn had a sod roof of yellow daisies in amongst Kikuya grass, but unfortunately, it became a home to bush rats and the weight of the roof in wet weather caused sagging of the roof and splaying of the barn supports, threatening imminent collapse! This is a photo of the original sod roof from the interpretive board.BlogBithry2517-07-25 13.05.05 It was replaced by a corrugated yellow fibreglass roof, which acted as a permanent beacon of golden light, which could be seen from Wapengo Lake, until it too was replaced with the current roof in 1993. Below is a photo of the inside of the roof:BlogBithry2017-07-25 13.22.40Inside, there was a wood stove and hot water service; a septic system; a sunken bathroom; a battery room, housing a dozen 12 volt car batteries, storing power from an 11 metre tall wind tower beyond the Point; and even a kitchen sink!BlogBithry2517-12-27 11.27.41BlogBithry2017-07-25 17.12.51 The Wind Tower was built by Nev Whittle in 1964 from untreated stringybark poles in a tripod construction, braced at intervals, with a ladder attached and 3 wind blades on the top. A 32 volt DC generator was housed in a shed at the base of the windmill, with wires leading underground to the battery room of the Barn. Water was pumped in from tanks and dams.BlogBithry2017-07-25 13.39.01Outside the Barn is a outdoor table and bench, the Marr Bench and Table, so called because they were designed and built by Marr Grounds, Roy’s son, also an architect, sculptor and educator, being the Senior Lecturer in Environmental Design and Art in the Department of Architecture at the University of Sydney until 1985. See: http://www.marrgrounds.com.au.

BlogBithry2017-07-25 16.21.07BlogBithry2017-07-25 16.30.12 We ate our picnic there, accompanied by a rather quiet swamp wallaby.BlogBithry2017-07-25 16.30.37BlogBithry2017-07-25 16.30.47Nearby  is the Bum Seat, also designed by Marr, another wonderful spot to dream and contemplate and admire the stunning Bithry Inlet! The Bum Seat is a simple timber slab, inscribed with the imprints of two large and two smaller female and male bottoms. Marr also erected a number of statues around the grounds, as well as a few utility buildings.BlogBithry2517-12-27 11.22.41BlogBithry2017-07-25 17.12.11BlogBithry2017-07-25 13.18.48The nearby Geodesic Dome was constructed by Roy after the Barn to house his carpentry tools and then, Betty’s vegetable and herb garden.BlogBithry2017-07-25 13.17.45 Its form is based on the repetitive use of a single geometric shape, the triangle, with the three ends of tanalith-treated saplings, each meeting another 5 triangles, the hub giving the dome its structural stability and protected by galvanised Tomlin garbage tin lids. Eighty percent of the dome was enclosed using panels of yellow sail cloth, the north facing aspect glazed with clear acrylic and was heated by the battery system, allowing the cultivation of pawpaws!BlogBithry2517-12-27 11.42.12Being passionate about conservation and environment, the Myers and Grounds planted many trees to revegetate the previously logged site and  in 1966, started a small scale commercial timber production, using a Tanalith treatment process (using Copper azole). See: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wood_preservation. By the mid-1970s, eucalypt plantations were established on one third of the property, being cared for and maintained by John and Mary Cremerius, who were originally employed to clean up the degraded site, with a team of seven foresters under the supervision of Lindsay Pryor, a botanist and expert in eucalyptus taxonomy, who founded the Australian National Botanic Garden. By 1982, there were 1050 trees planted to each hectare and today, there are over 60 000 trees in various stages of growth.BlogBithry2017-07-25 15.30.23BlogBithry2017-07-25 14.00.59The Myer House was designed by Sir Roy Grounds for Ken and his first wife, Prue, and their five children, and built between 1969 and 1970 by Kingsley Koellner, with the help of George Hoylands, of Bega. Below are some photos of the Myer House and Precinct, including the tennis court, outdoor table and path down to the beach.BlogBithry2017-07-25 13.07.06BlogBithry2017-07-25 13.07.21BlogBithry2017-07-25 13.09.42BlogBithry2017-07-25 17.19.29 Ken and Prue divorced in 1977, Ken remarrying a Japanese artist, Yasuko Hiraoka (1945-1992), later that year. Ken and Yasuko modified the house by adding a series of infilled spaces to the perimeter verandah. They also moved the kitchen from the entrance hall, which was refitted to allow the Japanese practice of removing one’s shoes before entering the house.BlogBithry2017-07-25 13.08.53BlogBithry2017-07-25 17.18.39Yasuko shared Ken’s passion for the natural world, working on the vegetables and herbs, while Ken pruned the fruit trees and roses.BlogBithry2017-07-25 15.42.17 I love the netted Orchard with its huge old camellias and old gnarled fruit trees,

 

although it’s all a bit the worse for wear these days, allowing previously prohibited access by kangaroos like this huge fellow!BlogBithry2517-12-27 12.08.14 While they lived there, they were virtually self-sufficient in vegetables and fruit, with supplies topped up by the produce of the Cremerius garden and the odd spot of fishing.BlogBithry2017-07-25 15.46.45BlogBithry2017-07-25 15.46.26 The orchard was watered from the nearby dam, a very peaceful spot covered in water lilies. In 1983 and 1985, Yasuko’s father, Masa Suke Hiraoka, laid out a small nine-hole golf course nearby, the first tee marked by a timber block with his initials, MH. The area is slowly regenerating since revegetation work was carried out in 1993.BlogBithry2517-12-27 12.03.50BlogBithry2517-12-27 12.06.27 Unfortunately, Ken and Yasuko died in a light airplane crash, when on a fishing expedition, in Alaska at the end of July 1992. There is a lovely memorial site to their memory up on the ridge in the forest. Joanna Baevski, Ken’s daughter, became the lessee of the Myers precinct on their death and from 1993 to 1994, added a bedroom for her daughter on the north-east corner of the house.BlogBithry2017-07-25 15.36.35BlogBithry2017-07-25 15.35.24BlogBithry2017-07-25 15.35.40Sir Roy Grounds and Kenneth Myer had offered Penders to the New South Wales State Government back in 1973, on the basis that it would be reserved as National Park. It was officially gifted to the National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) in 1976, being incorporated into the 5802 hectare Mimosa Rocks National Park. Marr Grounds and his daughter became the lessees of the Ground’s precinct after Roy’s death in 1981, with Marr being the primary occupant and caretaker till 2011. The blinds of the Barn were replaced in 1984 after 20 years of gales and Marr dismantled the windmill in 1996, leaving three inclined posts as a sculptural relic and installed a series of commemorative lead plaques across the site after Ken’s death.BlogBithry2017-07-25 13.39.16BlogBithry2017-07-25 13.33.09In 1981, the Barn was placed on the Register of the National Estate. In 1991, it  was classified by the National Trust and included on its register and in 1998, the Barn, Geodesic Dome and the site of the former timber preservation works were added to the NSW State Heritage Inventory as an example of coastal forest regeneration, a plantation timber production and experimental architecture.BlogBithry2017-07-25 15.36.39The final parcel of land of 20 hectares was handed over to NPWS in 2011 on the expiry of the Myer and Grounds’ leases. In 2012, the Myer House underwent extensive renovation work, restoring the interiors to their original style, and is now available to the general public for short-term stays for up to 12 people. See: http://www.nationalparks.nsw.gov.au/camping-and-accommodation/accommodation/myer-house. In 2013, Penders was added to the State Heritage Register.

We loved exploring the history of the area, as well as doing the 2 Km walk south to Middle Beach. See: https://www.nationalparks.nsw.gov.au/things-to-do/walking-tracks/middle-lagoon-walking-track. The track follows the coast through grassland (first two photos) and into the forest with its beautiful misshapen tree trunks (3rd and 4th photos), across cliff tops, ridges and gullies, past the Middle Beach Trig (5th photo) and Stinking Bay, so called named for the dead fish which accumulate in the bay, to the lovely ocean beach (6th photo), lagoon (7th photo) and rock platforms (8th photo). Here are some photos from our walk in July 2017.BlogBithry2017-07-25 13.40.07BlogBithry2517-12-27 11.50.06BlogBithry2517-12-27 11.53.21BlogBithry2017-07-25 14.12.08BlogBithry2017-07-25 15.00.50BlogBithry2017-07-25 14.44.25BlogBithry2017-07-25 14.55.32BlogBithry2017-07-25 14.52.57 En route, we were lucky enough to see, not just one, but three echidnas! According to the National Park Ranger, who we also met along the way, echidnas mate in Winter, often forming trains of up to 10 male echidnas following a female, and their sighting often foretells rain and yes, we did indeed get rain two days later!BlogBithry2017-07-25 14.20.12 For more on Penders , see: http://www.environment.nsw.gov.au/heritageapp/ViewHeritageItemDetails.aspx?ID=5053623.

There is also an audiotape on : http://www.abc.net.au/local/stories/2012/05/21/3507120.htm.

Next week, we return to my craft library with a post on my favourite Drawing and Art books!

 

Architecture Books: Part Two

The second part of this post features six wonderful books for people planning to build their own home, with lots of practical information on materials and building techniques and styles, as well as plenty of inspiration and useful and helpful advice! There is so much to consider and so many decisions to make when building your own home, as well as so much time, physical work and cost, so prior research and planning is essential!

The Natural House Book: Creating a Healthy, Harmonious, and Ecologically Sound Home Environment by David Pearson 1989/ 1992

Given all the effort involved in building your own house, it would be awful if your new home had deleterious effects on your health and this is one of the key tenets of this book, along with the need to be environmentally aware and have as minimal impact on our planet as possible!

The book is divided into three parts:

Part One describes the interaction between you, your home and the environment. It compares the Natural House, defined as providing ‘health for the body, peace for the soul and harmony with the environment’, with dangerous dwellings, full of indoor pollutants and toxic chemicals, and based on wasteful environmental practices.

Part Two examines life systems for comfort and climate (energy efficiency, renewable energy, cooling, insulation, fuel and power, the dangers of radiation and electricity and energy conservation); water (use, pollution and conservation; air (air quality, pollution and air control systems); scent (aromatherapy and herbs); sound (noise pollution and acoustics in the home) and light and colour (daylight, artificial lighting, energy-efficient lighting and colour therapy); and the attributes, costs (health and ecological) and use of a variety of building materials (stone; glass; plaster; metals; earth; timber; reeds and bamboo; canes and grasses; natural fibres, paints and varnishes; and plastics).

Part Three applies all the principles gleaned from the previous parts to the design of spaces within the home: Living Spaces; Sleeping Spaces; Kitchen Spaces; Bathing Spaces; Health Spaces and Green Spaces. It includes a large section on health and ecological hazards in the kitchen, bedrooms and bathroom, as well as lovely illustrations and photographs of  beautiful rooms and spaces.

I loved the window seating area, which doubles for sleeping, in the section on Living Areas; the simplicity of  Japanese and Scandinavian bedrooms; the passive solar greenhouse attached to the kitchen, outdoor sunrooms and pools, as well as the deep Japanese bath or furo, in which you sit and soak with water right up to your neck!

The appendices include charts featuring sustainable timbers; natural fabrics, grasses and canes; natural paints, varnishes and finishes; household cleaners (their personal and environmental risks and alternatives); household waste; rating your home and indoor air pollution. There is also a list of resources, including materials, organizations and architects, and a glossary and bibliography in the back.BlogArchitectureBooksReszd30%Image (651)

Earth to Spirit: In Search of Natural Architecture by David Pearson 1994

Also written by David Pearson, this book features a large number of vernacular and traditional architecture throughout the world and their influence on modern architecture.

It starts by examining Ancestral Archetypes, before exploring Healing Architecture, the Art of Living in Harmony with the Land, Vernacular Wisdom, Cultural Identity and Living the Dream, all supported by beautiful and inspiring photographs of examples.

In Architectural Archetypes, he gives examples of the original human dwellings: Caves, yurts, hogans, pit houses, roundhouses, pueblos, and kivas.

In Healing Architecture, he discusses the growth of movements like Baubiologie, Organic Architecture and Anthroposophic Design (Steiner), with their use of wood and other natural materials, flowing lines and curves and romantic and spiritual emphases.

The chapter on Harmony with the Land stresses the importance of environmental awareness, energy efficiency, recycling and the inter-relatedness of all living things, as propounded by James Lovelock’s Gaia Theory, giving many examples of different architectural projects, including Australia’s Permaculture, designed by Bill Mollison and David Holmgren.

Vernacular buildings also hold many ecological lessons for today’s architects and builders, as they display many ingenious and low-energy-use solutions to living in difficult climates, as well as harmonizing with their local landscapes through their use of local materials.

Authenticity and Cultural Identity are also important concepts in modern architecture, especially with regards to modern developments and finally, in Living the Dream, there are examples of individuals and groups, who are incorporating all the ideas, propounded in this book, into actual practice, like the Centre for Alternative Technology, which we visited in Wales in 1994 and Crystal Waters, Australia’s first intentional permaculture village, in Maleny, Queensland.BlogArchitectureBooksReszd30%Image (654)The Good House Book: A Common-Sense Guide to Alternative Homebuilding by Clarke Snell 2004

An excellent  guide to all the different aspects of alternative home building with chapters devoted to

1.Philosophy and Definitions;

2.Building Materials:

Traditional:

Earth : Stone; Mud (cob, rammed earth, adobe, brick, wattle-and-daub, earth plasters and concrete); Metal and Glass;

Plants: Grasses (straw, bamboo, sod roofs using living grasses) and Wood; and

Animal Products (skins, whalebone,dung, blood, milk and urine)

Modern : Plastics and synthetic polymers

Alternative: Recycled and Waste Materials: Used tyres (earthships), byproduct straw (strawbale houses), wood-based waste (cellulose insulation), and recycled plastics and concrete;

: Local Materials: Earth; and Plants;   and

:  Natural Materials;

3.Structure: Loads; Foundations; Floors; Walls; and Roofs;

4.Temperature: Heating; Cooling; Insulation; Thermal Mass; and Traditional/ Modern and Alternative Approaches to Temperature like masonry stoves;

5.Separation: Forces of Decay (water, sun, wind and life) and House Skins (integrated; applied: walls and roofs), including flashings, breathable walls, stucco and plasters; and green roofs;

6.Connection: Exchange of light and sun, water, air and power, including discussions of rainwater tanks, wells, waste water and compost toilets, septic systems, air quality, and renewable energy;

7.Applications: Examples of six alternative homes: their experiences, decisions and advice. They include: an earthship, a strawbale home; a breathable hot-climate house; a tiny earth-plastered office; a health-conscious home and a conventionally-constructed ‘alternative’ wooden, energy-efficient, passive solar home. Brief notes about all these buildings are detailed in a table at the end of the chapter, according to the previous chapters: their materials, structure, temperature, separation and connection.

8.Reality Check: Cost factors, building codes and considerations and advice for owner-builders.

Throughout the book are countless examples of traditional, modern and alternative approaches with hundreds of photographs, interviews with alternative builders and side bars and detailed drawings, helping to explain concepts.

The final chapter, Going Deeper, lists useful resources (hard copy, internet and buildings) for each chapter.BlogArchitectureBooksReszd30%Image (653)

Building Green: A Complete How-To Guide to Alternative Buiding Methods by Clarke Snell and Tim Callahan 2005

A similar, but much thicker  and even more practical book, with lots of detailed suggestions.

Part One: The Basics covers the reasons behind green building (low construction impact; resource efficiency through the life of the building, durability, nontoxicity and aesthetics); and alternative building fundamentals and building strategies, according to structure, temperature, separation and connection) and design (patterns and pattern language).

Part Two:

Building : Examines siting (in relation to sun, water, wind and earth- soil and contour); site work (required to seat the building and ensure good drainage: clearing land, mapping site contours, excavation, retaining walls, layout and digging foundations) and structure (the basic framework – its foundation, wall and roof structures.)

The latter has a huge amount of practical information, with step-by-step photographs on piers and drains, gravel trenches, stem walls, post-and-beam framework, moving heavy objects, tools, termite barriers, preparing and setting posts, building roof trusses, framing the roof, roof decking, living roofs and porches.

Temperature: Discusses the use of cob and other earth mixes, cordwood, strawbale and modified stick-frame to cocoon the building and maintain a stable indoor temperature. Again, lots of practical information on the advantages, disadvantages green credentials of each, as well as how to determine if your soil is suitable, how to build with cob, shaping niches and shelving and using glass bottles (cob); choosing and processing wood, mixing mortar, laying cordwood and round buildings (cordwood); types of strawbale construction (infill vs. loadbearing), bale dimensions, designing with bales, drainage planes, laying bales, water considerations and  rendering (strawbale); and wall trusses, wooden laths, insulation, prepping for plaster and use of bamboo (stick framing).

Separation: Covering the walls, roof and floor with skins to protect the building from the forces of decay: covers plastering and stucco and finishing the skin or trim (walls); living roofs; lapped or seamless roof skins, finishing the roof skin, gutters, insulation, drainage, rainwater catchment, and shingles (roofs); and raised or on-grade floors, gravel beds, grouting and hydroponic floor heating (floors); and

Connection: Creating connections between indoor and outdoor spaces via doors and windows; transition zones; and systems (plumbing, heating and cooling, power, lighting and waste disposal). of the topics covered include salvaging windows; building doors from scratch, outdoor work spaces, and patios and courtyards.

The four different alternative building methods and many of the concepts in this book are incorporated an actual construction project and the completed energy-efficient green building is shown in the final chapter and is quite delightful.BlogArchitectureBooksReszd30%Image (664)

Small Strawbale: Natural Homes, Projects and Designs by Bill Steen, Athena Swentzell Steen and Wayne J Bingham 2005

Strawbale construction is a particular favourite of mine, because of its energy conservation, insulation, fire retarding qualities, soundproofing, low cost, thick sills, sculptural and recessing potential and the total look and feel!

This lovely book features a collection of small houses, studios, meditation spaces, outbuildings and landscape walls.

While serving primarily as an inspiring showcase of ideas, it also includes many practical suggestions from basic guidelines for small buildings, roof slope and pitch, shading devices, round buildings, greenhouses, plastering hints, and  carving murals to  making window seats, built-in furniture, lofts and mezzanines, dormers and alcoves, earthen baking ovens and pantries, as well as numerous house and room plans. It’s a lovely little book for dreamers!BlogArchitectureBooksReszd30%Image (650)

And finally, one book on interior decoration, which complements many of the buildings described in this post:  simple, organic, natural, imaginative, creative and highly original!

Ethnic Style: From Mexico to the Mediterranean by Miranda Innes 1991

This beautiful book showcases ethnic interiors from around the world from the carved fretwork and richly embroidered fabrics of Eastern Europe, the simple elegance of Scandinavian wooden houses with sod roofs, the whitewashed plaster walls, blue doors and window shutters, terracotta roofs of Greece to the decorative Moorish partitions, colourful mosaic tile work  and the African mud hut walls, painted in abstract patterns with earth and mineral pigments in ochre, brown and black; the decorative arches, cooling courtyards and exquisite brightly coloured textiles of India; the simplicity, harmony, serenity and minimalism of Japanese homes with their paper screens, bamboo matting and sense of order; the Australian bush style and in the Americas:  the Shaker furniture; Native American artefacts; brilliant Haitian shutters; and bright Mexican colours!

The second part of the book explores how to create the ethnic look using wood (natural and  decorative: painted and carved); rattan, wicker, bamboo and rush; plaster; paint, textiles and  ceramics and tiles. There are so many lovely ideas and interiors in this book! It is a real feast for all the eyes alone, though no doubt in practice, it satisfies all the senses and creates a comfortable and highly personal home!!!BlogArchitectureBooksReszd25%Image (665)

Next week, I am exploring some of the beautiful Art Books, which we have in our library…. a visual treat indeed!!!

Architecture Books: Part One

Following on from previous posts on books about our natural environment and the world we live in, as well as our own historical background, it is now time for a post on books about our built environment and the homes people have created.

I have always been interested in architecture, especially vernacular, traditional and alternative owner-built dwellings, so it is not surprising that we own a number of books on this fascinating subject. Here are some of my favourites!

A Pattern Language: Towns, Buildings, Construction by Christopher Alexander, Sara Ishikawa and Murray Silverstein with Max Jacobsen, Ingrid Fiksdahl-King and Shlomo Angel 1977

Second in a series of books about a totally different approach to architecture, this book is a bible to all those interested in architecture and  town planning, especially those who believe that people should design their own communities, houses and streetscapes.

The book provides a language for building and planning, describing detailed patterns for towns and neighbourhoods, houses, gardens and rooms. Each pattern describes a common widespread problem, as well as the core to the solution of the problem, allowing for a multitude of different responses.

Each pattern has the same format:

Black-and-white photograph, showing an archetypal example of the pattern;

Introductory paragraph setting the context for the pattern and its role in larger patterns, which are numbered;

Three diamonds denoting the start of the problem;

Headline in bold type giving the essence of the problem;

Body of the problem: the empirical background of the pattern; the evidence for its validity;and the range of different ways the pattern can be manifested in a building;

Solution in bold type, describing the field of physical and social relationships required to solve the stated problem in the stated context. The solution is always expressed in the form of an instruction, so you know exactly what you need to build the pattern;

Diagram, showing the solution with labels indicating its main components;

Three diamonds, marking the end of the main body of the pattern;

Final paragraph, linking the pattern to all those smaller patterns in the language, which are needed to complete the pattern.

This format presents each pattern in context to all the 253 other patterns in the language as a whole, so an infinite variety of combinations can be selected. The patterns are presented in a straight linear sequence, ranging from the largest pattern for regions and towns, then concentrating on increasingly smaller elements: the neighbourhood; clusters of buildings; buildings; rooms and alcoves; and finally details of construction. All the patterns are related to and support other patterns, like the web of nature.

While this all sounds rather complex, an example might make it clearer:

When my children were smaller, we lived in a large old house and each child had their own room like conventional Western practice, however we found that the kids never slept in their own beds each night, but moved around, sharing each other’s rooms. They liked being in each other’s company, a natural instinct described in Pattern Number 143: Bed Cluster, which is illustrated with beds, inset into the wall of a shared room.

The introductory paragraph sets the context within the larger patterns: Couple’s Realm (136) and Children’s Realm (137), as well as Sleeping to the East (138). The bold type headline discusses the balance between a need for privacy and the problem of isolation for young children in many cultures if they sleep alone. The body of the problem examines the possible configuration of children’s beds in shared rooms; isolated rooms and a cluster of alcoves, complete with a diagram, and the problems associated with each scenario. The solution in bold type suggests the placement of children’s beds in small individual alcoves around a common playspace, again illustrated by a simple diagram.

The last paragraph looks at smaller patterns, which should be examined to complete the pattern like Communal Sleeping (186); Bed Alcove (188); Children’s Realm (137); Dressing Room (189); Closets Between Rooms (198); Child Caves (203); Light on Two Sides (159); and The Shape of Indoor Space (191).

It is a fascinating book, which looks at basic human needs and how to fulfill them, an approach so different to our materialistic money-driven architecture, where the houses are so large with multiple bathrooms to ensure a good resale value, rather than being a home or taking the environment or our basic needs into account. It’s a lovely book to dip into and really make you think and question.

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Dwellings: The Vernacular House Worldwide by Paul Oliver 2003/ 2007

This is a terrific book for showing the huge diversity of vernacular buildings throughout the world and the ways indigenous peoples cope with local issues like climate, migratory lifestyles and symbolic and cultural expression.

Vernacular architecture is defined as: Owner-built or community built dwellings, utilising traditional technologies and local resources to meet specific needs and accommodating cultural values, economies and ways of life.

Each chapter examines the environmental considerations and problems and the buildings and method people use to handle these problems.

In addition to discovering different architectural and building styles, I learnt so much from this book about different peoples, their traditions, beliefs, cultures and ways of life, as well as the problems they face and how they have dealt with them. For example, while every child is familiar with Eskimo igloos, I was unaware that the Inuit also have communal clubhouses called karigi, nor that some Inuit built houses with whalebone frames (quarmang) or that there were different types of iglu like the anegiuchak and killegun.

Ancient dwellings, like the longhouses of late Bronze Age farming communities or the stilthouses of lake dwellers, are also described, as well as the wide variety of dwellings created from different building materials like earth (mud and clay), stone, wood, bamboo, and reeds and grasses.

I love the cave dwellings of Saumur, France, and the tufa pinnacles of Cappadocia, Turkey; the adobe abodes of Syria and Turkey with their parabolic corbelled domes; and the stone trulli in Apulia, Italy; the wattle-and-daub houses in England and sod-roofed timber log houses in Norway; the floating reed dwellings of Lake Titicaca, Bolivia, and the whitewashed walls and blue paintwork of the houses of the Greek islands.

In an increasingly urbanised Western world with mass uniformity in modern housing developments with brick venereal disease, it is wonderful to see the creativity, sense of place and attention to detail these traditional houses and settlements display.

In the back is an extensive bibliography and glossary of architectural and building terminology.BlogArchitectureBooksReszd30%Image (652)Home Work: Handbuilt Shelter by Lloyd Kahn 2004

Another wonderful book, which celebrates the creativity and individuality of hand-made shelters, as encapsulated by his introductory quote:

Shelter is more than a roof overhead’.

I also totally relate to Phillip Moffat’s quote on Page 31:

A house is a home when it shelters the body and comforts the soul’.

A sequel to his best-selling book, Shelter, written in 1973, it contains 1 100 photographs and over 300 drawings and includes the homes of builders, photographers, dreamers, farmers, travellers, traditionalists and campers.

The common features of the handmade homes featured include: Good craftsmanship; Practicality, economy and simplicity; Efficient use of resources; Tuned to the landscape; Aesthetically pleasing and radiated good vibes; Integrity in design and execution; and/ or Wild Creativity! The book and these buildings are so inspiring!

There were some really interesting and individual buildings from Louie Fraser’s shop, a Mandan earth lodge with curved white-plastered walls, a curving shingled roof and hand-crafted furniture to his Japanese polehouse, accessible only by riding a bosun’s chair on a 500 feet cable across a river; Ian MacLeod’s circular stone houses with gauze windows in South Africa; Bill Coperthwaite’s yurts; and Jack William’s beautiful simple wooden home to the tiny dwellings of Archilibre in the French Pyrenees (http://www.archilibre.org/) and strawbale houses, made famous by builders, Bill and Anthea Steen (see later) and photographer, Catherine Wanek.

There were also many photos of vernacular dwellings and communities throughout the world, including Native American shelters; American barns; stone buildings in Northern Italy; Tibetan monasteries, shrines and cabins; the Greek monasteries of the Meteora; Hungarian timber framed buildings; the Hallig homes of Northern Germany (a certain casualty of global warming and sea level rises!); Mongolian cloud houses; tropical tree-houses; colourful gypsy wagons and handmade house-trucks and house-buses. Some of the fantasy dwellings were amazing and quite ingenious: Michael Kahn’s Eliphante with windows composed of old car windshields, silicone together with stained glass incorporated on the inside; Ma Page’s Bottle house and Steve Kornher’s lightweight concrete sculptural forms at Timolandia. They are all labours of love, relatively cheap in monetary terms, though costly in time and a wonderful testament to their builder’s creativity and uniqueness.

Like the previous book, it has an excellent list of recommended reading matter.BlogArchitectureBooksReszd25%Image (658)Homemade Houses: Traditional Homes From Many Lands by John Nicholson 1993

This is a lovely little book about architecture and regional building styles for children.

It covers:  Mobile homes (Moroccan tents; Afghan yurts; and Inuit igloos;) and a wide variety of dwellings built from :

Reeds, grass and bamboo: Madan Mudhif; Sulawesi Tongkonan; Samoan fales; and Venezuelan huts;

Earth and clay: Dogon village; Cappadocian cave; New Mexican pueblo; and Syrian mud domes;

Wood: Australian Queenslander; Japanese minka; timberframed houses in England; and

Stone: Cotswold cottage; Apulian trullo and Irish thatched farmhouse.

Like all children’s books, it is a great way to get a quick condensed and simplified view of an unfamiliar subject. It has a simple glossary and a world map marking the locations of featured buildings at the back.BlogArchitectureBooksReszd25%Image (657)

The next two books concentrate on the vernacular architecture of the United Kigdom.

The Illustrated Handbook of Vernacular Architecture by RW Brunskill 1971/ 1978

A simple, yet comprehensive guidebook to all the different vernacular building styles in Britain, though there is a small section on the English influence in North America. There are detailed chapters on :

Walling : Frame and cladding: Construction and materials, including stone, cobbles and pebbles, flint, brick, earth and clay, timber, wattle-and-daub, shingles, weatherboard and plaster;

Roofing : Shape, construction and materials, including thatch, slate, stone flags and tiles, clay tiles and pantiles; as well as notes on dormers, eaves and chimneys;

Plans and sections, including notes on halls, hearths and fireplaces, storeys and staircases;

Architectural details : All the different styles and shapes of windows and doors throughout time; and external (bay windows, porches, wrought iron, barge boards, plaques and sundials) and internal ornament (partitions, built-in cupboards and moulded ceiling beams);

Farm buildings : Haysheds, stables, pigstys, threshing barns, cow-houses, granaries, dovecots and oast houses; and

Urban vernacular and minor industrial buildings, including the terrace houses of the Industrial  Revolution; windmills and watermills; and smithies, kilns and textile mills.

In the back are distribution maps and notes on all the different types of building materials: stone; flint, pebble and cobble; brick; clay; timber; thatch; stone flags and tiles; plain tiles and pantiles; and building techniques: cruck timber frame construction;  fireplace type; as well as time scales showing the different styles of windows, doors and roofing over time.

There are black-and-white photographs and diagrams illustrating patterns, forms and floor plans, as well as appendices on the different methods of studying  vernacular architecture; glossary notes; and suggestions for further reading.

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Village Buildings of Britain by Matthew Rice 1991/ 1992

While the black-and-white photographs of the previous book lend an historical feel to the vernacular architecture, the delightful watercolour renditions of this lovely book are equally suitable.

This book also has a different format. Whereas the previous book was divided into sections according to the elements of the building (roofing, walling, decoration etc), this book is divided geographically with chapters devoted to the typical style of building and building materials in the West Country (Cornwall Somerset and Devon), Wessex (Dorset, Wiltshire, Hampshire, Oxfordshire), the Weald (Surrey, East and West Sussex and Kent), East Anglia (Norfolk, Suffolk, Cambridgeshire and Lincolnshire), the Shires (Buckinghamshire, Bedfordshire, Northamptonshire, Leicestershire, Nottinghamshire, Warwickshire, Staffordshire), the Cotswolds (Gloucestershire and parts of Wiltshire and Oxfordshire), the West Midlands (Shropshire, Herefordshire and Worcestershire, Staffordshire, Cheshire and Warwick), Wales, the North of England (Northumberland, Cumbria, Durham and Yorkshire), the Borders, and the Highlands and Islands.

There is a regional map on page 15 and a resource distribution map on page 9 (random rubble, granite, sandstone, brick, limestone and chalk or flint), which determines the building materials used.

I loved the paintings of the individual houses, particular features like doorways and windows or brick patterns; regional maps and general landscapes, complete with chooks, turkeys and sheep. There are also interesting notes on the Arts and Crafts movement, Norfolk churches and Welsh chapels, and model villages and farms, as well as an illustrated glossary in the back.BlogArchitectureBooksReszd30%Image (656)A Home in Provence: Interiors, Gardens, Inspiration by Noëlle Duck 2014

A sumptuous book showcasing the beautiful stone houses- the bastides, mas and mazets, bories and cabanons and townhouses of Provence on the Mediterranean coast. I love the blue wooden shutters, the terracotta tiled roofs and  the ochre and burnt sienna walls. The interiors are so beautiful from the terracotta tiled floors and stone staircases with wrought-iron railings to the  ornate plasterwork, rustic exposed wooden ceiling beams and distempered walls in ochre, sienna and azure.

The shady paved terraces, outdoor furniture, water features, earthenware pots and vases and gardens full of lavender and roses are also discussed, as well as the decorative features of Provencal style: the polished and painted wood furniture;; gilded mirrors; rush-bottomed chairs; Provencal fabrics like Souleïado (http://provence.souleiado.com/souleiado-story/ and https://www.french-nc.com/shop/Fabrics/French-Fabrics/Souleiado-Fabric.htm; boutis and matelassage quilts; ceramics and glassware; and tableware and kitchenware.  This is a beautiful dreamy book for francophiles and homemakers alike.BlogArchitectureBooksReszd30%Image (661)Planning the Australian Homestead by Kenneth McConnel 1947

Written the year my husband was born, this book belonged to his mother and I am including it in this post, as I love the old black-and-white photographs of the houses and gardens of famous old Australian properties like Camden Park and Harben Vale in New South Wales and Cardross and Cressbrook in Queensland.

After a brief discussion of Australia’s early bush tradition, the book follows a logical order with chapters on:

Site and Setting: Water; Access; Aspect and Prospect; Wind Protection; Associated Features; Slope; and Soil;

Plans: Verandahs; Site Placement according to sun, wind and aesthetics;  and

Plan Types: Simple Rectangle; L or T Plan; U Plan; Courtyard Plan (which I particularly liked!); and Open Plan, all accompanied by scaled house plans, like the example of the courtyard plan, shown in the photo, taken from page 30, seen below;BlogArchitectureBooksReszd30%Image (668)

Planning the Parts:

Front Entrance: Porch, Verandah, Driveway and Front Door;

Living Room: Fireplace, Ingle Nooks, Windows, Verandah; and Ceiling;

Dining Room: Placement and Lighting;

Kitchen, Pantry and Servery;

Laundry;

Sleeping Wing; and

Bathrooms.

It is so interesting reading this section, as it represents a time capsule. Many of the essential items mentioned are now obsolete in modern homes. How many contemporary entrance halls, if indeed they still exist, contain a hall cupboard for coats and hats, a sofa, an occasional table, telephone and grandfather clock? There are also many references to the beliefs of the time, making for some amusing reading like:

‘ There is, however, something to be said for being able to shut young children out of the living room in the daytime, provided there is somewhere else for them to carry on their activities’!

How times have changed! The contents of the living room have also changed. While we still have sofas or armchairs and possibly a table in our contemporary living rooms, many modern houses no longer have bookcases, desks, wireless sets or pianos. And how many people these days know what an ingle nook is? See photo from pages 50 to 51 below.BlogArchitectureBooksReszd20%Image (669)BlogArchitectureBooksReszd50%Image (670)

I love the idea of a two-way cutlery drawers (see dining room photo above, from page 61) and kitchen dresser, built into the wall between the kitchen and dining room, accessible to both rooms, which can also take the form of a drying rack, a ‘real boon to the lady of the house, if she is also the cook and dishwasher’, as seen in the photo below, from pages 68 to 69, though most kitchens and dining rooms are open plan these days and the dishwasher has replaced washing dishes by hand!BlogArchitectureBooksReszd25%Image (671)I also laughed at the assertion that: ‘a bath is almost as out of date and insanitary as an antimacassar’, whatever the latter is (!), but that ‘being a conservative people, I suppose that we shall stick to it for quite a long time’, written 70 years ago by an obviously non-bath lover!!!

The book then discusses Associated Features and Services: The garden; water and drainage; rain water tanks; sanitation and septic systems; stables and horse yards; and milking sheds, all of which could still be relevant to country homesteads, though more really an indication of the age of this book!

There is a separate chapter, written by Rex Hazlewood, on Garden Design, followed by chapters on heating and cooling; lighting; building materials: stone and brick; pise; timber; concrete and cement; wrought iron; and paint; and the use of these materials in walling, posts and columns, verandahs, roofs, ceilings, floors, paving, gates and railings.BlogArchitectureBooksReszd30%Image (659)The Australian House: Homes of the Tropical North by Balwant Saini and Ray Joyce 1982/1993

The traditional timber Queenslander house of tropical Northern Australia is a classic example of vernacular domestic architecture in Australia during the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

The author examines the origins and influences upon the development of the tropical timber house and its components: verandahs, stumps, roofs, interiors and fences. He discusses their renovation and restoration, the pitfalls and things to look out for.

There are over 200 photos of houses from large wealthy city mansions to the humble cottages of factory workers and miners. Having lived in Toowong, Queensland, I was familiar with many of the houses and streetscapes photographed in this book.

I love these old houses: their old verandahs, the decorative awnings and brackets, cast-iron work, roof ventilators and finials, roof lookouts and curved corrugated iron bullnose verandah roofs, as well as their internal features: fretwork door panels, pressed metal ceilings and stained glass window panes. The photographs are delightful and the book provides plenty of inspiration for renovators. It finishes with a bibliography and glossary of terms.BlogArchitectureBooksReszd25%Image (660)

Islam: Art and Architecture Edited by Markus Hattstein and Peter Delius 2004

Islamic architecture is also highly distinctive and recognizable and another one of my favourite architectural styles. This book is a wonderful guide to the fundamentals of Islamic architecture and showcases many beautiful examples throughout the world, their locations depicted in the introductory world map, as well as different historical time periods

Introductory chapters cover:

World Religion and Cultural Power: History; Beliefs; the Koran; the Five Pillars of Islam: the public profession of faith (shahada); the obligatory liturgical prayer (salat) five times a day at fixed times; the giving of alms (zakat); ritual fasting (saum) in the holy month of Ramadan; and the pilgrimage to Mecca and its surroundings (the hajj); and Islamic Law;

Art and Culture in the Islamic World: Early Arabian art; Islamic attitudes to art; Mosques; Philosophy and Science (astronomy, physics and medicine); and Literature.

The book continues with a discussion of the different time periods and places: their history, trade and trading routes; architecture and architectural ornament;  and decorative arts, including mosaics and  tile work; sculptural ornamentation, reliefs and frescoes; textiles and carpets, ceramics and glassware, woodwork and metalwork; artifacts made from ivory and rock crystals; calligraphy, book illustration and miniature painting; and garden design. Comprehensive chapters, complete with timelines, maps, diagrams, architectural plans and wonderful photographs, are devoted to:

Syria and Palestine: the Umayyad Caliphate

Iraq, Iran and Egypt: the Abbasids of Tunisia and Egypt: the Aghlabids and Fatimids;

Syria, Palestine and Egypt: the Ayyubids, Mamluks and Crusaders;

Spain and Morocco: Spanish Umayyads; Almoravids and Almohads; and the Nasrids of Granada;

The Maghreb: Morocco to Tunisia, including the Berbers;

Early Empires of the East: Ghaznavids and Ghurids;

Central Asia and Asia Minor: the Great Seljuks, the Anatolian Seljuks and the Khwarazm-Shahs;

Islamic Mongols: From the Mongol Invasions to the Ilkhanids;

Central Asia: the Timurids; the Shaybanids and the Khan Princedoms;

India: From Sultanate to Mughal Empire; Iran: Safavids and Qajars;

The Ottoman Empire;  and

Islam in the Modern Age.

It is a really lovely book, with so much information and so many beautiful buildings and artworks!BlogArchitectureBooksReszd25%Image (666)

On Thursday, I will be discussing Part Two of this discussion of Architectural Books.