Friday, May 22, 2009

Small writer's cabins: A COMPETITION [follow up from January]

Here are some images from the web.

I am in discussion with T.K.Davis (Nashville/UT Knoxville) about a Writers Cabin competition: building small retreats will be an immediate way of attracting to YB some creative people.

To expand a little.

1. Specifications
Imagine a single room, 8x10' with built in desk. Could be some reference to Michael Pollan, Heidegger's hut, other famous writing places (see January blog).Must be able to be built off site, and set onto blocks on site. Ideally I would like to specify some heating and cooling standard, such as solar fan, so well insulated it hardly needs heating, and solar powered lighting/electricity. But I do not want to totally stifle other forms of creativity. We do need to say something about what we are looking for. Originality, playfulness, eco-friendly, pleasure-to-work-in. I am interested in conceptual integrity/style/innovation etc. But trumping all such considerations these must be places/spaces that can themselves inspire focus and creativity in those using them - writers, songwriters, academics - an interesting challenge for a designer. Total insulation is great, but not in itself inspiring. And there are some fascinating looking spaces that would be very distracting to work in. Option to visit YB and check out possible sites.

TK says that UT Knoxville's architecture department has an inside 'construction platform' on which such a cabin could be built. This reinforces a certain intensification of the challenge being posed here: Given these parameters [8' x 10', plus x,y,z...] what is your IDEAL writing space? Constraints function like sonnet form in poetry - opening up creative freedom.

2. Stages/dates
I would LIKE to start now - give people the summer to make something. We need first to solicit some reasonably detailed designs (incl. materials budget) so we could select half a dozen (!!!) and give the budget to go ahead and actually build. (What budget would be reasonable?) I am hoping the terms of the competition could involve YB keeping the end products, while offering the builders/designers some numbers of free weeks accommodation in their own (or other people's) cabins over the coming years, and website exhibition. Installation sometime in the Fall. There could be various categories of winner: most green, most creative, cheapest!. All would be featured with pics etc on the website, offering a showcase/virtual gallery for the final product, ideally one which one could walk around.

3. Entrants/Publicity
In principle anyone could enter- architecture/design students, architects (& green builders) in Nashville/Knoxville and elsewhere - but practically they would need to be within reasonable trucking distance (on a standard 6x12’ trailer). Could publicity be done via email lists?