Friday, May 28, 2010

Indulging My Architecture Fantasies

I've probably mentioned it before, but I had a brief dream as a child that I wanted to be an architect. That dream was crushed by my brain's inability to love math. Seems there's some math involved in architecture, which is stupid, 'cause if I can imagine it, I can build it, right? Anyway, so I didn't get to be an architect, and I can say, "Oh, well, probably for the better." And I tell myself most architects probably hate life anyway because they have to design block apartments and hideous convenience stores and other things they despise. And they look back to their idealistic college days and wonder what happened to that student who was going to build incredible houses and magnificent structures and they think of killing themselves. So yeah, who wants to be an architect? Stupid job. Stupid math job.

But I like to play with design still and imagine "What if?" It seems I'm not the only one who's come up with this: Concrete pipe dwellings. Here's a hotel in Austria using concrete pipes for rooms. They only have three rooms randomly strewn on a lawn and they didn't really go for it in grand way, but I'm sure it's unique. Above is a modest little dwelling in China, and below are some guy's plans for something a little better. Kinda cozy in a claustrophobic way. (More detail here.)

While I applaud these modest efforts, all ya'll are thinking too small! If I were your architecture professor, I'd give you all F's and berate you before the class, suggesting that maybe you just kill yourself now since you'll be contemplating it anyway 20 years down the road when you're designing buildings that remind people of Soviet controlled Eastern Europe.

Let's get serious about concrete pipe. Like THIS monster mofo piece of pipe from Ameron International. 

You bury this chunk of cement halfway in the ground, either vertically or horizontally, and you've got a hurricane proof,  tornado proof, energy efficient place to build out. Stick three or four of them together, cut a few holes for windows and doors, and that's a nice sized place. Some stainless steel appliances and you're the coolest house in town. Leave a small section unfinished for your skateboarding kids. You'll need your own land, though, as I'd imagine most Home Owners' Associations shitting bricks if this went up in their neighborhood.

But as we've discussed before, rounded buildings don't catch the wind. (Hurricane season starts in a few days, which is why I'm thinking of this, I suppose.) And I'm pretty sure things half buried are easier to heat and cool. Surely there's some concrete pipe maker out there who once harbored dreams of becoming an architect who wants to try this experiment with me. Any of you old white guys on Ameron's board want to get your hands dirty? C'mon. It'll be fun.

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  • Aside from the endless debates about how to arrange the furniture, how to install systems in a safe and pleasing manner, I like this concept. Maybe take a saw to a shipping container for a portch or garden shed. Years ago they sold abandoned MX missile silos; I really wanted one, but they were in the forsaken states, and the silos reminded me of the Carter era, so I quickly got over it. But this has potential. I often notice how quickly they toss up commercial space, examine the construction, and imagine making a dwelling from it. You know, no ceiling (just girders,) HVAC vents painted matte black, stained concrete floor, exposed electrical conduit and hanging fixtures.

    The other thing I like about the direction you're going is that with a cone atop, it's pretty much ballistic, albeit heavy. Also, no termite worries.

    You can probably get a grant for this. Just make up some green prose.

    By Anonymous fistful of rain, at May 28, 2010 at 7:02 PM  

  • I saw a special on unique homes and a couple who lived in one of those silos. Lotta headroom, but can you really call a silo *home*?

    By Blogger mtlb, at May 30, 2010 at 4:54 PM  

  • Here in Hooterville, there are a fair share of homes built half into the ground, usually with cement ducks wearing aprons by the front door and pickups on the lawn. This is a much cooler concept. I want one.

    By Anonymous adchick, at June 2, 2010 at 12:01 AM  

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