Friday, December 4, 2009

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Back from Peru

I am finally back from a month-long adventure in Peru. I saw some incredible architecture on my travels. Most of the cities were built in the colonial period and therefore resembled European cities in design, with a grid of streets surrounding a central plaza. There was not much timber construction (at least in the regions I visited) due to the scarcity of good strong trees so everything was built out of stone or adobe. It was really amazing to see large city buildings, built out of mud, that are almost 500 years old! The adobe construction often has a soothe stucco on the outside that gives it a finished look, but still retains the subtle organic form and curve of the mud bricks.
The architecture revolved around creating comfortable open courtyards where people could relax, sell goods, etc. with some privacy from the busy city streets. It is too bad that North Americans did not borrow some of these ideas when we built our cities. I think that my next house will have to have a courtyard in the center, although I might need a glass roof to deal with the northern climate.

     I noticed that most of the buildings had steel casement windows. This is a style that I have admired from the New England mill buildings and much of the Arts and Crafts architecture. In Peru, all of these windows were made locally in street-side shops out of readily available steel stock. Seeing this was all I needed to decide to build my own windows for my house. Now I have the flexability to make them any size I want, with my own layout of the panes. I already have enough antique glass in the rotten wood sashes that I have been saving to make the bay window and a box window over the kitchen counter.
     It has taken me a little while to get back into the swing of things, but I just ordered the pegs from Northcott Wood Turning and have put together a list of materials needed to build the walls. Expect to see some progress over the next few weeks!