Testing the walls / by Lora Martens

The construction phase of this project was a process of trial and error for me. Each error taught me about a dozen lessons so by the end of this project I will have learned about 1 gazillion lessons about physically building something of value and made about 5 gazillion mistakes, which I had to redo. 

One of the most talented people I know, Vera Gates from Arterra Landscape Architects, always tells us that the project you start is never the same project you finish. Our flexibility and a bit of humbleness throughout the process can allow a project's unexpected challenges to result in unexpected delights.  

First the materials I originally thought would look well in the walls didn't. First I wanted to fill the walls with wood that I burned, to signify (not subtly) the California forest fires of 2015. Then, after that was rejected for to safety reasons, I thought I could do some color and plastic toys of various colors. Plastics ended up looking bad, so I rethought the idea of wood again. 

I started collecting organic materials, mostly wood from the dump, raw steel, wood toys, glass, and some found pinecones from the garden itself. These items seemed to represent a idea in tandem with the raw grief I was feeling about the forest fires. The lumber represented a connection with the forest, and reminded me how connected we are to the land even as we build cities to remove ourselves from it.  

 

 original sketch....

original sketch....