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We have a cemetery on our land with two skeletons in it. This will probably be an excellent source of terror for our kid at some point. We also have the stone foundation of the house where they lived over … Continue reading →
We have a cemetery on our land with two skeletons in it.
This will probably be an excellent source of terror for our kid at some point. We also have the stone foundation of the house where they lived over 100 years ago. The barn foundation is across the road. There are some old rusty sap boiler parts and masonry from a “sugar shack” where they (or someone) boiled maple sap into syrup. Of course, stone walls are everywhere and often serve as property lines. The soils are rich to the south of our house where a hundred years ago or more cows where probably pastured. These soils now sustain sugar maples, black cherry, and ash trees. The soils to the north probably never saw intensive livestock farming are are thinner and less rich. White pine, red maple and birch grow there. With some exceptions, none of our trees are over 100 years old. There are several other cemeteries on our sparsely populated road and the uninhabited valley to the Northeast of our land has many old cellar holes where houses and even an inn once stood. All the land was completely cleared of trees a long time ago. We cleared an acre and a half of the woods for a field where we play, grow fruit trees, watch stars and with occasional success, garden.
The sense of the history of the land is strong as is the feeling that we are new to the land and very temporary. People will be on this land and changing it long after we are gone.
I think of buildings the same way. If we are building structures that we hope to last for two hundred years or more we need to look at more than just the needs of the current occupants (clients). I think this is an oft overlooked tenant of “green design”. If I design an ugly building because the client insists on it, will the building be torn down in thirty years time because others can’t stand to look at it? And do all the “green” bells and whistles included to make the building use less resources and energy really matter at that point? Historically, beauty and function where given equal billing here in New England which is why we have such a rich heritage of historic architecture. We now seem to be emerging from an architectural period where we let engineers and developers design our buildings into a more collaborative effort where those trained to look at beauty, history and function with a more long term approach (architects) are working with people schooled in the more functional aspects of a building’s performance. Architecture should be more about stewardship and legacy than lists of user needs, green features and feasibility studies.