Tuesday, 30 August 2011

Arts and Crafts modern

Traditional natural building materials such as timber, cob, thatch had to be used in a way that recognised their limited durability. Steep roof pitches, generous overhangs result. If these rules were not followed they would have fallen apart quickly. Well detailed, they age gracefully and delight with their marks of age.

Fed up with constant repairs - in particular reputtying and painting timber windows at the beach shack - has made me think about how to detail contemporary building in a traditional way.

The existing porch was detailed to invite water into it, in particular a window sill sloping backwards. After twenty years it was oozing decay.

We rebuilt it in a week this summer using decay resistant but economical details. Sawn fence posts are directly glazed with 4mm sheets of toughened glass. I love that ambiguity of the frameless window - the magic of the invisible cloak. The sheets drain over a simple aluminium flashing over open jointed Douglas Fir cladding, all detailed to keep everything beyond the air barrier nice and well ventilated. The roof overhangs and protects the wall - no gutter needed here so we could make an exceptionally thin edge for a built up felt roof. This is a detail 'under test', taking advantage of a self-adhesive felt system where a simple aluminium angle is primed, making the felt stick tenaciously to it. The test is to see how long this really does stick. In the meantime it is as razor sharp as any modernist could desire.

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