Jeff Shelden, 55, an architect with Prairie Wind Architecture in Lewistown, Mont., and his wife, Lois, 53, a professional photographer, also wanted easy upkeep — minus a hefty price tag. As the son of a Forest Service ranger, Mr. Shelden was determined to erect an updated version of the square, stone 1930s-era Forest Service lookouts he loved as a boy. He and a team of contractors built the cabin, in the Judith Mountains of central Montana, using only local or reclaimed materials. In doing so, they were ahead of the curve.
“One of the biggest environmentally friendly trends we’re seeing is the use of local materials,” said Dale Mulfinger, an adjunct professor of architecture at the University of Minnesota and the author of “Cabinology: A Handbook to Your Private Hideaway.” “Once you start shipping things long distance, that’s not so friendly — there’s the cost of shipping as well as the fuel costs.”
Wood for the interior and the redwood decks that surround the Sheldens’ tiny 512-square-foot cabin was recycled from a nearby train trestle that had been torn down. Rock for the outside came from a quarry two miles away. “I put an ad in the local paper for corrugated steel for the roof, and a gentleman called and said he was tearing up his barn and to come take what he had off his hands,” Mr. Shelden recalled. He estimated that the cabin, completed in 1998, cost him about $55,000. For $1,700, he bought a photovoltaic system to supply electricity and to pump water for a hot tub. His utility bill is zero.
An antique wood stove, a vintage Hoosier kitchen cabinet, a table and chairs occupy the ground floor. A ship’s ladder leads to the second level, a large window-rimmed space with a futon, a wood-burning stove, bookcases, a couple of ottomans, and a TV and VCR. A six-foot-square acrylic skylight in the roof’s dome adds more light.
Although the space is small, the Sheldens have hosted Thanksgiving dinner for 12 on a warm November day. Their daughter, Claire, 21, has invited friends for cookouts and campfires. The cabin is close to home — only 17 miles away — so the Sheldens can visit frequently. In the winter, though, they can drive only so far. “We ski up the last half-mile,” Mr. Shelden said.
Friday, November 14, 2008
Tuesday, November 4, 2008
People around the Caribbean are counting the cost of Hurricane Gustav, which killed at least 97 people and damaged or destroyed tens of thousands of houses. As the clean-up begins, some of the storm’s victims will need temporary housing until their homes can be repaired.
Enter an ingenious idea from firm of US architects. I-Beam Design’s has created a house made from wooden pallets. The house was conceived as a shelter for refuges returning to Kosovo. They needed a cheap and easy to erect alternative to the typical refugee camp tent.
The houses are made from standard wooden shipping pallets which are cheap, available in most countries, easy to transport and often used to ship aid to the refugee camps. The 4.8m2 homes used about 100 pallets nailed or strapped together and lifted into place.
Tarpaulin sheets draped over the basic structure or plastic corrugated sheets prevent water penetration until enough debris, stone, mud, earth, wood, corrugated metal or any other materials from the immediate surroundings can be gathered to fill the wall cavities and cover the roof.
Pallets may be pre-assembled with styrofoam insulation, vapor barrier, plywood or corrugated sheathing prior to shipping. The filled pallets can be covered with stucco, plaster, or roofing tiles transforming the makeshift shelter into a permanent home within a year or two as infrastructure is restored locally and cement or other materials become available. Plumbing and electrical conduits can also be incorporated within the thickness of the pallets.
The basic structure can be built in less than a week for under £1693 and the homes can be altered according to the needs and size of the families living in them.