This Space for Rent

Not as earthy-crunchy as thou (a post that has nothing to do with politics!)

I've been trying to think of ways of doing a faster and cheaper summer camp, because it doesn't look like it's particularly easy to find cheap land anywhere near where we live (land in southwestern British Columbia is, um, not particularly cheap; I guess it's the effect of it being about the only part of Canada that doesn't get regularly snowed on. Okay, BC isn't particularly near where we live right now, but I'm in the throes of trying to remedy that situation.) One of the ways of keeping the summer house price down with expensive land is to simplify the house by making it a single-story structure, and building it on a slab. While I was thinking about single-story bungalows, I remembered a couple of designs out of one of the Stickley reprint books I bought last year, and decided to go back and take a look at them.

One of the plans turns out to be better suited than I thought; it's one of Stickley's more rustic designs, intended to be built from stone blocks. Stone blocks are not the most wonderful building material, because they're really heavy, want to collapse into piles of rubble at the slightest earthquake, and don't insulate worth a plugged nickel. But they do have the feature that if you're going to have any sort of insulation, the walls need to be nice and thick; thick enough, as a matter of fact, to be about the same depth as, ahem, strawbales. My, that's a happy coincidence; if I used this Stickley plan, I wouldn't have to heavily modify it (or modify it at all) to make the frame of the house either (a) a nebraska-style structural strawbale frame, or (b) a post and beam structure with strawbale infill.

And it's pretty, in the sort of rough way a good summer camp should be. I'd want to make part of the veranda into a glassed walkway, so people could walk between the bedrooms, the bathroom, and the living room without going outside (since it would be a mountain cabin, there is no way that I would only use it during the summer, and the idea of having to go outside to reach the bathroom at ohdarkhundred when it's COLD and SNOWY is right out. But other than that the plan doesn't need much work. If I built it as post and beam, it would probably satisfy the local zoning people who might get fretful about a nebraska-style house in a humid climate, and I might be able to be able to get if off the ground for less than CAD25,000, or ~CAD30/square foot (assuming that I do the bulk of the work myself, with slave labor from the bears.)

Move the mouse over the plan to see the modified version

Plus the idea of doing a real Stickley plan as a strawbale house has a certain appeal, if only the appeal of watching the too-much-free-time architectural snobs go into a spluttering rage over the alterations. Panelling the roof with PV panels and a solar water heater would probably cause head explosions, too.

Postscript: the best isn't quite sure about this plan, because she thinks the bedrooms might be dark caves if they only have north-facing windows. A solution to that might be to use glass brick as part of the central wall between the bedrooms and the hall (and *kaboom* goes the head of another architectural snob), which will bring some south-facing light into the bedrooms without exposing the occupants to the view of people walking by outside.


Is the idea behind this that you walk outside to get to the other rooms, or are you really meant to walk through a bathroom and the other bedroom to get to the last bedroom?

Paul Tomblin Sat Mar 4 05:39:31 2006

Stickley was somewhat delusional about the healthful effects of Fresh! Country! Air!, so, yes, the plan was that people would go outside to go from bedroom to bedroom, with the emergency backup plan being that you’d go from the living room through a bedroom, the bathroom, another bedroom, and the closet to get to the last room.

Worse yet is that the veranda is supposed to face north, so unless it’s the height of summer it will be darkly shaded. And, as you can see, there’s no dining room, because the intent is that you eat meals in the crook of the veranda, where no light will penetrate.

The modified plan (which you can now see courtesy of the magic™ of javascript) replaces part of the veranda with a windowed hall. The wall between the hall and the bedrooms can be left as a stone wall for thermal mass, because once the house is spun around so that the veranda hall faces south it will be in the ideal place to pick up sunlight in the middle of winter.

David Parsons Sat Mar 4 09:34:53 2006

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