January 1, 2009

The experimental buildings on Shoal Lake are featured in the recently published Cabin, Cottage & Camp: New Designs on the Canadian Landscape, a thoughtful compendium of contemporary “homes away” that—despite wildly different scales and budgets—all share an intimate relationship with the wilderness.

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 Herbert Enns used the opportunity to write an accompanying essay that explores, among other things, the psychic and environmental costs of even the gentlest intrusion on the land:  “To cut Douglas fir plywood—to cut down a Douglas fir tree, to clear-cut first-growth forest, to cut down the coastal range—in order to configure a place of serenity in the wild is barbaric, unsophisticated, primitive, and violent. Construction is violent in almost every possible dimension. Some think it to be the spiritual essence of architecture. I do not. Its violence may be natural and necessary . . . but at incalculable costs. . . .

“Thankfully, violence is scalable. I made the buildings small, using as many recycled materials as possible. First comes necessity, then comes morality: a stand-alone off-the-grid solar energy system for power and light further reduces the scale of construction/destruction violence. When the batteries run down at night, we go to bed.

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