Whether people are fully conscious of this or not, they actually derive countenance and sustenance from the “atmosphere” of the things they live in or with. They are rooted in them just as a plant is in the soil. Frank Lloyd Wright, The Natural House
My first experience with log architecture was spent in a 20’ x 30’ cabin in the middle of Quebec. The cabin was a fishing camp, not a lodge but a true camp. It was only slightly more substantial than a good tent, but had a sense of permanence and protection. No plumbing, no electricity, but more a home than many places I have occupied in the decades since. The roof was supported by the exterior walls and a single truss; interior partitions were three quarters as tall as the exterior walls, providing a loft area for additional sleeping quarters that allowed adolescents to overlook the adults evening conversations. A stone fireplace occupied one side of the living area, built from rocks found on the property, providing warmth in the cool Quebec summer nights. Every morning the sun rose down the two mile length of an otherwise unoccupied lake, and the light would stream into the cabin filling it with a glow that seemed to assure that everything was right with the world. The texture and polish of the hand peeled logs spoke volumes about the care with which they were carefully cut, scribed, and stacked decades earlier. The light brought the love of the builders into the atmosphere.
My first visit to the cabin, at the Eternite Fishing Club, came at the age of eight. I returned almost every summer until my 18th summer, by which time the surrounding landscape had been transformed by overzealous loggers who refused to plant new stock after harvesting every available log to become the newsprint I read every day. It always seemed such a waste to me, the logs that could have provided comfort and shelter being ground to pulp that could so easily have come from other more sustainable regenerating materials. I understand the decision of my family to sell the property, but hold the memory of the cabin deep in my soul. I have been told that the land has regenerated in the past 40 years, and look forward to a time I can revisit home.
Apprenticeship taught me much, but mostly in the tight envelope of slab-to-slab commercial interiors. Early practice brought the opportunity to expand into residential loft work where there was often a high ceiling. But light was elusive. Many a loft was fitted with programmatically unneeded elements whose function was only to bounce light as far as possible into the interior space.
As fate would have it early in my career I was approached by a couple asking if I had any experience building log houses. The love of Eternite came flooding back in. But this was not to be a two room hideaway in the woods, this was a full three bedroom house complete with bathrooms, fully equipped kitchen, and a great room larger than the entire cabin I had loved as a child. The property was situated on a ridge between the foothills of the Berkshires to the east and a 30 mile view of the Catskills to the west. The sun rose and set over stunning mountains.
And so began a love for log homes, not from kits, but contoured to the property, aware of the rising and setting sun, carefully crafted and detailed with whimsy and aesthetics in mind. Waiting in perfect orientation to be embraced by the love of the sun, to be brought to life by light.