Thursday, October 2, 2008

Building Dwelling Thinking Costing

K tells me the writer’s cabin will cost about 100K to build. This is prohibitive, however reasonable. I persist in thinking it can be done for half that. But most of the work is done cheaply because it’s done frictionlessly in my head, or by elves. I come up with schemes for reducing construction to the simplest procedures involving 8x4 sheets of this and that, like Japanese tatami mats. Going down this path takes the routinizing use of right angles in building a step further, an approach which led Rudolf Steiner’s anthroposophists to say that devil lives in the right angle. Enter Antoni Gaudi! But is originality impeded by fixed units, or does it simply require us to focus on how they are arranged? How different is that from using existing words to make new sentences rather than insisting on making new words? Traditional Japanese houses are proportioned by tatami mat units, but they do, it’s true, judiciously add the odd wooden branch.

My plan was to make (I had hoped) two or three such cabins, so that people could come and stay for a weekend or a month to finish that essay, or write that book, in an attractive peaceful setting. The style would be simple without being primitive. I am reminded of the Hotel de Filosophes in Amsterdam, in which each room was dedicated to a particular philosopher, had a select quote inscribed around the top of the wall, and a bookshelf of their books. I stayed in the Simone de Beauvoir room. It is an idea worth imitating, though perhaps one could ring the changes from month to month. Perhaps these cabins could be very much smaller than the 900 sq ft I was thinking of (on two floors). How much room does one need to live in? Is it easier to concentrate in a tiny space? With a deck! How about a well appointed tree-house?