[Image: A sketch by Henry Wood, from The New York Times].
Last week, The New York Times took readers to an isolated house called Clingstone, built by a Philadelphian named J.S. Lovering Wharton on a rock in the waters of Rhode Island.
Working with an artist, William Trost Richards, Mr. Wharton designed a shingle-style house of picture windows, with 23 rooms on three stories radiating off a vast central hall; its plan is less a blueprint than a diagram of arrows indicating sightlines. He built it like a mill, Mr. Wood said, with wide planking, sturdy oak beams, diagonal sheathing and an odd flourish: an interior cladding of shingles…
The process of renovating the house, abandoned since the 1940s, was formidable, and the weather can be rough; we read, for instance, that “untethered doors at Clingstone are quickly smashed by the wind.”
“This house is always going to have rough edges,” says current resident Henry Wood, an architect.
[Image: Photos by Erik Jacobs for The New York Times].
The house, an act of near-constant maintenance, is now on its way to being green:
Today, solar panels heat the water, and a wind turbine on the roof generates electricity. Rainwater is collected in a 3,000-gallon cistern, then filtered, treated and pumped through the house for cleaning purposes. (Mr. Wood claims it is safe enough to drink, “but my children don’t trust me so we don’t,” he said.) After years of using an activated seawater system that draws in seawater, then treats and filters the waste before releasing it back into the ocean, Clingstone now has the latest generation of composting toilets.
For the time being, Clingstone is the only structure on the island, watching through picture windows as Atlantic storms roll in.
The slideshow, with images by Erik Jacobs, is worth checking out.
[Image: Note the wind turbine. Photo by Erik Jacobs for The New York Times].
Meanwhile, over at Deputy Dog we were introduced to the rotating architecture of the Villa Girasole, a house in Italy that rotates on massing internal roller bearings and exposed tracks paved into the landscape.
The house, by engineer Angelo Invernizzi, “last rotated in 2002,” we read in Chad Randl’s new book Revolving Architecture, where many more photographs of the building appear. Randl writes:
Invernizzi and his design team used the villa project as a laboratory for trying out modern materials, from reinforced concrete to fiber-cement wall boards. In keeping with the project’s experimental nature, a considerable amount of adaptation and refinement accompanied construction. On the exterior walls Invernizzi substituted aluminum sheet for the original cement finish when cracks appeared after the first trial rotations. As the foundation settled and the rotating mechanism was tested, small cracks also developed along the interior plaster walls of the moving part. Invernizzi concealed the damage by finishing the walls with a canvas covering…
Randl points out that the “layout and form of the moving section are well suited to rotation.” Further, the house’s occupants could “control rotation using a panel (with three buttons: forward, backward, and stop) in the foyer of the moving part.”
You can read more about the house’s “rotational machinery” in Randl’s book.
I wonder, though, if an interesting children’s novel couldn’t someday be written about a family who goes off on holiday for the summer in the mountains of Italy, renting a dust-covered and slightly eccentric old house. The young boy or girl, who is left alone all day, for whatever reason the novelist comes up with, finds a small panel one day in the house’s towering attics.
Those strange paths in the garden, you see, aren’t just paths, they’re tracks – and this house doesn’t just rotate it travels large distances…
[Image: An under-detailed simulated glimpse of “subterranean cyclones“].
In any case, in a bit of unrelated news, hurricanes of liquid iron have been raging at the earth’s core for more than 300 million years, simulations suggest. These “subterranean cyclones” have been spinning for the most part below Asia, perhaps explaining the core’s seismic asymmetry.
Earlier this summer, EDAW released images from its intern design program wherein a new park atop a buried freeway for Los Angeles was the featured subject of discussion. Park 101, as they call it, would be the resulting swatch of artificial land created by covering up the 101 Hollywood freeway. EDAW describes its own plan as “a visionary, and realistic, urban design solution to cap… a relatively small area straddling the 101 freeway, situated in an existing maze of roadways.” It will be “an iconic urban park in the heart of downtown Los Angeles… re-visioning the existing infrastructure that supports and encircles the core of the city – freeways, channelized rivers, streets, and public transit.”
Considering that L.A. needs very seriously to consider pedestrianization plans, at a huge variety of scales across the whole city, this seems like as good a place as any to begin.
In fact, BLDGBLOG here proposes something like a Pasadena-to-Pacific walking trail: a purpose-built pedestrian boulevard – car-free its whole length, except perhaps for access to emergency services – leading from the beaches of Santa Monica all the way to the foothills of Pasadena, via Griffith Park, encompassing de-paved sections of major cross-city thoroughfares.
A north-south axis would be soon to follow – and the whole thing could perhaps then hook up with the Pacific Crest Trail.
Speaking of L.A., in response to the previous post, artist Sean Dockray sent in these unexplained images, apparently derived from “freeway loop detector data” on the perpetually clogged 405. We’ve covered Dockray’s work before; in this case, Dockray also drops hints about “a radio station that would be nothing but a reading of [traffic] incidents around [Los Angeles] county (w background music).”
So what do these subtly morphing diagrams really mean?
Finally, Pruned was Alps-bound last week with this look at Gazex, an “explosively effective” anti-avalanche technology embedded in the snow-covered mountainsides.
According to the company’s own website, “Gazex explodes an oxygen/propane gas mixture in specifically designed exploder tubes located at the top end of risk zones. The exploders are connected to gas storage tanks with capacities high enough to operate for the whole season without re-filling.”
The company boasts that it is the “world leader in remote avalanche prevention control systems.”
Clearly, though, it would not be hard to re-purpose this technology, installing hundreds – thousands – of these things in the mountains, anticipating warfare… and then hurling avalanches down upon the heads of invading armies.