Wednesday, September 22, 2010


Modoc. Off the map. CTRL F to find its name on the rice paper of history's pages. Salmon eaters, Klamath river folk, the trinity forests, or Indiana, where locals can be heard muttering in an unintelligible french dialect. Shore's garage where they work magic. I was following my friend and architect Luke Davis down the backroads toward the county line where he has a cabin in progress. Turning into an unmarked grass lane at the end of a hayfield and stopping to set my beer on top of the car to open a metal gate which I hastily close so all the cows don't get out of the pasture and eat the alfalfa. Its still a ways from here. For photos, i'll need the daylight. For now, Luke and I are content to drink a whiskey on the big porch and listen to freshly weaned calves bawling for milk.

Throughout the midwest, many doze and burn the decaying barns, outbuildings and corncribs of yesteryear because it's easier and cheaper to raze and rebuild than worth it to fix what's wrong. Seen through different eyes and refashioned; there is a lot of life left. Conceptually, Luke Davis' Rural Reuse Project simply champions utilizing the materials that we have around us. Physically, it began with assessing and acquiring materials and location and drawing plans for the cabin based on the amount of and specific materials he could gather and how it could naturally fit into the landscape. Luke's approach shows value where others see waste. Upon viewing the cabin, you get the idea that applying the same approach to a variable set of materials and location would yield similar successful results but look and feel entirely different.

The material gathered includes well seasoned and rock solid lumber from a corncrib and a haymow; replaned by Davis at the Ball State architectural facilities in Muncie, a cache of leftover telephone poles, and windows and doors salvaged from construction project. Luke baled the straw, which sealed in the adobe within the planed wood walls has an insulation value of R-60, nearly double some states' standards. The width of the bales lends itself to deep wooden window wells. The whole thing has been made possible by the nail gun, which trimmed the three handed job of holding the board, the nail, and the hammer down to a manageable two hands. The cabin is well designed and livable, full of light, unexpected storage, cement countertops and pleasing angles. The location is a site far from view in one of his family's cashrent cattle pastures where the grassed terrain rolls subtly and sways in the first pew of a congregation of shade trees. There are houses within a mile but you cannot see them nor their lights. The telephone poles used to set the cabin were left untopped and fit in seamlessly with the surroundings as if they were just another treetop and from the front, the land gently spills out from under the big porch. Secluded. No light pollution. And you can see all the stars.

items tabled until the next meeting:
bird banjo 002
recap of pork adventure
the blog baby
nashville knives t-shirts
you had your chance
zen ben
is hip hop bigger than the govt?


Andy Oler said...

The cabin is awesome, Luke. I'm proud to have swayed with you in the front row.

Disaster Amnesiac said...

"value where others see waste"
Yeah, RAD.

Elin Grimes said...

Straw bale insulation. Someday, I hope to live in such a place.