I was invited to do a TetraHouse installation on this fresh land nestled in the lushous green hills of North Carolina. In the long run this place, Ancient Future Farms, will serve as a community hub and potential artist residency. Many developments were made, mostly in the membrane department. This is the first time the TetraHouse has had a cover, which is a major step towards habitability. I made contact with Peter of Red Sky Shelters who has an amazing membrane fabrication facility with a CNC fabric cutter. Very excited. Check it out:
Packed the whole TetraHouse in the Chinook and slept on the beams one night on the way down south.The first step was building the platform. I remembered Soleri’s approach, always building on the most unusable land, so I perched this thing on a pile of rocks and saved the flat lands for gardens. Each pressure treated 4×4 was set with 1 back of Quickcrete.
Below, you can see how the TetraHouse is furnished. I pulled these planks from under an old shack and re-purposed them. These are the few remaining chestnut planks from a tree that was almost driven to extinction by fungal blight. What was once abundant and common is now rare. Lets hang our hats and have a moment of silence for the American Chestnut tree.
In this image you can see the benches installed within the triangles that emanate from the square base. This demonstrates one of the main features. TetraHouse has a small 96″x96″ foot print but can actually fit a lot more than you’d expect. Notice how the benches don’t infringe on the floor space at all. Appliances like benches, shelves, and counters are always installed on these sloping triangles to accomplish two goals.
1. Avoid infringing on floor space2. Avoid modifying the squares faces.
Another main goal of TetraHouse is to not modify the majority of the building material. This is pretty revolutionary and not to be overlooked. This allows the majority of the materials invested in the structure to retain a liquid value on the market (like craigslist). The square faces are perfect 96″x96″ which means you can drop in raw unaltered material off the racks of Home Depot. Installing appliances here would riddle the surfaces with holes and mounting points which diminish value. Since the triangular faces already require custom fabrication, its most strategic place to make alterations.
Below is another view of the benches. I used the most haggard boards with the prospects of maybe selling the others. These are patched together in a way that could be construed as artful.
I used the extra LoseeNodes as the mounting points for these benches. Below is an example of over building. It looks really neat but I ended up removing 2/3rds of them in the final set up. It does demonstrate how one would tie into the macro structure in a way that has a lot integrity.
This is my favorite way to finish wood. I do light washes of found latex paint to stain the wood. The latex clogs the pores so you don’t need nearly as many coats of polyurethane. That poly is nasty so it’s good to limit your exposure to it. It’s also expensive.
These are the oldest LoseeNodes. I’ve replaced many parts but these guys are hanging in there. You can see some freshly made deep brown 2x4s integrated at this juncture. I like the mismatched materials. Here’s another full view after everything’s been installed.This was beautiful. I made a graphic many years ago comparing the TetraHouse to the tipi and perhaps that helped manifest this moment. From a philosophical perspective you could say that social strata follows technology. The white man’s need for property ownership emanates from the simple condition that his log cabin is tied to the ground. We’re pretty deep in it now. People are sub-letting their sub-lets, and these invisible relationships are getting very layered and baroque (ba-roke, broken). Either way there are many things to learn from this ancient tried and true design given to us by the people of the Great Plains.
Tangent: Why did they kill off all the bison only to replace them with cattle that required fences. Installing millions of fence posts seems like a very protestant activity and represents infrastructural bloat. The fence post was a very unnecessary piece of technology. It’s backwards in that technology had to follow social strata. If you’re ever wondering whether resource scarcity is an illusion perpetuated by inbred feudal lords, consider the eradication of the bison. Consider Christian doctrines that were systematically removed from scripture that told us that the kingdom of heaven could be within, on earth, and all around us. There are people who want to be the gate keepers, but I would say that no man is capable of containing this power. Take a moment to zoom in and look at this hi-res image of bison skulls.
On another note, Asheville is the home of the semi-renown Yurt company Red Sky Shelters. The Yurt is another tried and true historical design for mobile housing. Peter, of Red Sky, has done a lot of really great work improving this design. He’s combined the elements of triangulation found in geodesic domes with yurt construction to create a hybrid he calls a Yome. I toured their facilities and it was great. He’s done a lot of research into sustainable materials design that you can find on his web site. He developed a custom Silicone fabric to replace PVC, and uses a CNC fabric cutter to precisely process it. I’m now working on membrane designs for the TetraHouse. After this phase it will be a habitable and marketable structure. Below are some screen shots of the design process.
The current clear plastic membrane was a test run. I made it from a standard 6 mil drop cloth found at any hardware store. The video below shows how you can seem these things with an iron. The drop cloth has no UV treating so it will eventually diminish in the wind and sun.