|A cob house featured on the Mud Girls blog.|
Five thousand dollars.
For a house.
And not just any house, but a beautifully designed construction built with low impact to the land on which it's situated, a house that looks like a childhood fantasy or a daydream cottage. Sure, it's small. Who cares? I could - hold it - I could build a bunch of them! And connect them! And fill them with windows, ledges, shelves, spirals, skylights, nooks, crannies, crevices, altars, dance floors, fire pits, whatever I damn well want.
I could have a maze of museum.
Pretty sure I've shared this before (there's a picture at the very least in my glowing essay about the awesomeness of Clarke Snell & Tim Callahan's book Building Green), but here's a video tour of a cob house of note, known as Meka's Cob Cottage, built by Michael 'Meka' Bunch.
If you don't think this is absolutely lovely and delightful, in all honesty, you're not going to think much of my Museum.
If you do think this is lovely and beautiful, but you're thinking dubious thoughts about how a cute lil' house like this could take on museum status - it's so small! and won't you want there to be thousands of people tromping around? - well, here's what I think about that. We've been conditioned to see bigness of stuff as a symbol of status and success. The Escalade, the yacht, the shiny glassy skyscraper, the enormous columned hall - that's prestige. A dinky little one-room museum or a bicycle ain't got much clout in comparison. And when it comes to museums, we like a sense of clout. We like to feel the hugeness of things, the weight of history, the enormity of the collection, the massiveness of humankind's achievements.
|A cob house living room. Physically small? Maybe. |
Spiritually spacious? Absolutely. Via Busyboo.
I've been lucky enough to have an ongoing conversation with Clarke Snell, coauthor of the aforementioned book and a passionate advocate of low-impact building. One of the things he said to me that really, really stuck with me:
Every building must be configured at the very least to be resource neutral. That's the equivalent of treading water. If we want to swim to shore, our buildings need to start to balance that which we have set out of balance. This is all we should be talking about in terms of buildings. All day. All night. What a great time to be alive as creative forces when the design problem is to save humanity from itself. It's lofty, deep, meaningful, rewarding, and fun.
|Another image of the cob house shared by Mud Girls. They say, |
"Here are a few photos of Jen's shrine-like cob cottage. This
marvel in the woods is a true work of functional live-in art.
While sunlight illuminates the interior through the recycled
windshields, bottles and recycled skylight in the daytime, the
night provides an opportunity to illuminate the space with candle
light, creating an almost holy atmosphere. A visit to this cottage
is a true inspiration." I haven't even been & I agree.
Although there are many different types and styles and methods of natural building, cob is the one I've fallen in love with - you may notice I've showcased exclusively cob houses. That's not because it's the "best" (what the fuck do I know about that?) - it's just the one that speaks to me. Actually, it yells. The first time I saw a cob house my brain almost melted with longing. And in some way, that's the most important thing of all when it comes to inspiration - the desire to see something made. Cob buildings are so wonderfully beautiful, their entire concept (from collaborative construction to the wild hand-shaped look of them) rings so right and true with me, they inspire such strong sensations of childhood delight and fantastical dreaminess and magical possibility in me, I would do almost anything to be able to make a life of building a spectacular cluster of them a reality. Douglas Eby has an awesome post he wrote in response to my post about Imagination talking about Inspiration as Desire here; I realized, in reading it, just how true it is. In the same way that Clarke and Tim talk about Beauty as a necessary factor in green building - so you'll want to stay in a place, a very important aspect of sustainability - the sense of desire, of yearning or longing, the hunger to see something made, well, that's an enormous part of what makes us actually go out and do things instead of just dreaming. And so: my crazy delight over cob might be the single thing that really and truly gets the Museum made. It's a funny thing, really, but castles in the air sometimes just need a little mud to make them fly.
What are the things you want so badly to make real that you can't help but get your hands dirty?