Thursday, July 7, 2011

Material Process Product


I really enjoy walking through material yards and will often pull off in my travels when I see something intriguing. Unannounced and walking through, I hope of meeting the owner to see how these units are made. The sheds that house the production of these units are pretty spare and nondescript. The interiors are humid and the smell of curing concrete is in the air. The dry matrix of concrete is forced into molds and pressed out much like building a sandcastle at the beach.

Walking through these stacks of block is amazing and feels like walking through a city block-an urban canyon if you will, with aisles or streets that open to the sky. The carefully stacked individual blocks create texture and pattern as the sunlight grazes them.

I noticed this one lonely unbound stack. Although the individual blocks were strategically placed to knit the stack, the top several courses were leaning away. This precariously balanced GENGA-like moment made for an elegant composition. Could this beautiful composition double as a window opening, or building expansion joint?

What can be one with the simple module of 8”X16”. How can you take this ordinary material of modest means and elevate its status when making a building. I admire the work of Architect Albert Frey. Frey exploited the module of this humble material on his own house. I particularly appreciate the detail near the entrance where two walls make an obtuse angle and weave beautifully. The stacked running bond course is heightened by a flush and rake joint. I borrowed from Frey when designing a residence in Northeast Pennsylvania. Here the ordinary block is coupled with wood detailing to give warmth.

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