Thursday, August 31, 2006

Building Thoughts

About a month and a half ago, I read an article by Ted Benson in Fine Homebuilding called 'A Dismal Standard'. A critical look at common practices in the American residential construction industry, the article prompted me to investigate what I believe will be a revolution in future building processes. Basically, Benson laments the loss of craft in the building industry and points out the sort of planned obselescence that goes into creating a product designed for short term profit by an increasingly ameuter workforce. He maintains that hope for the industry lies in updating methods with the help of new technology and the respect for lost craftsmanship. It struck home with me for several reasons. I had begun reading Fine Homebuilding again for inspiration while remodeling a 100 year old house where we are living for four years in Enschede, the Netherlands. Before this project I had spent a year living in and rebuilding a wooden caravan in Hengelo (NL) and the three years before that working as a carpenter in Charleston, S.C. In that time I learned a good bit about basic building, but an equal amount about the working of construction as an industry- it's oft-fulfilled potential for negative environmental impact, the frustration of coordinating subcontractors, but also the beauty and art of well-designed and executed built environments.

Though the title appears a bit depressing, I was impressed reading about ideas for changing the building process that I found in Benson's work and other sources I found after digging into a little of the literature. It inspired me to do some research into timberframing as sustainable architecture and led me to the concepts of 'open building' that I've discovered in many readings and have just begun to find examples in realised projects here in NL.
This blog will be a place to keep track of my thoughts about building, review what I'm reading, and generally share what I find interesting about 'green' building. I'd also like to have a way to connect people that share ideas and interest in architecture and sustainability and discuss what I am learning as a sort of informal study method. Welcome.


Dogwood Girl said...

Very cool. Thanks for the invite!

Steph Bachman said...

Very neat! I read that article also, but was irritated that the guy failed to adequately address customers' unwillingness to pay for craftsmanship. We are continually amazed at what our customers "opt out" of - like brick, or vinyl clad windows/cornice.

Peg Odenthal said...

Thanks for giving me something else to read besides "Goodnight Gorilla" Bro ... fascinating and thought provoking ..