My intention on the land is to make a place for people to dwell harmoniously in nature.
So first, how do you decide where to build?
I spent the first year walking around in every season to observe where the sun lasts longest in the winter, where the best shade is in summer, where views are good and where there might be water underground. Many buildings were drawn for various sites, but I eventually settled on a site and design for a a balecob building. For the relatively new concept of balecob, thinner cob walls are built adjacent to half a straw bale cut lengthwise for insulation.
Things considered in design were:
• most importantly, orientation of building along an east/west axis with windows to solar south
• being close enough to the main road for access but far enough away for privacy while keeping the of the bulk of the wild
• a less rocky spot that could be hand dug
• shade from trees during afternoon summer heat
• a covered porch along the north side to keep that side snow and slippery-free, also for dining in the shade in the summer with views to the north to Pikes Peak
• a porch along the east side as well that is a tunnel view up the upper meadow upon approach
• a place on the south side of the building to sit in the afternoon winter sun sheltered from snowfall
• high windows to function like wind towers for cooling breezes
• insulation bales on the north
• a window cold box for refrigeration
• slope of the roof to gather water from rain
• just under 200 efficient beautiful square feet.
BUILDING FOOTPRINT AND DRAWINGS
LAYING OUT THE BUILDING
THE RUBBLE TRENCH FOUNDATION
1. Trench to frostline
2. Line w/landscape cloth
3. Perforated drain in the bottom draining away from site
4. Rubble to 6" below surface
5. Concrete w/rebar top 6"
THE IMPORTANCE OF FOUNDATION
The last thing I completed summer '08 was a masonry corner pier for the porch seen below. I developed a new design w/underground buttresses and a flat face towards the backfill to better hold the soil. The only massive stone uncovered that summer was at the bottom of the pier foundation hole...a perfect thing for it anchors the pier on the hill. Many syncronous things like this have happened.
All stone I haul from my neighbors (we traded grass seed for stone). I use a dolly and a board ramp onto my truck then push them off the truck and dolly them to where I need them. For short distances, I "walk" the big stones on end. Underground, I use "urbanite", broken sidewalk with some cement.
In all of this, I continually learn that things happen for a reason...the right length or board is there when I need it, someone helps and digs too small of a hole into which extra concrete is poured, which makes me rethink my whole design, causing me to come up with a much better idea. It's collaboration with materials, the earth, time and synchronicity.