Friday, February 12, 2010

Smilla's Sense of Snow and Brahms

Last winter I read Smilla's Sense of Snow and watched the snow fall while listening to Brahms. Those three things go really well together, the book, the music and the snow. As much as I covet a warm climate there is something about the snow and the cold that affirming...I can't find the word but it makes me doubt the wisdom of relocating to a warm climate. I definitely write more when it is cold.

Now that we are relying solely on our wood stove for heat the cold adds an new dimension of contact with the earth. I am always aware of the temperature inside and outside. When I wake up in the basement and it is 51 degrees I know the fire has gone out upstairs or that the temperature outside is approaching single digits.

Stacking firewood and hunting for kindling in the woods creates a healthy disconnect from civilization. It is like a genetic memory is being reawakened, as if my DNA is more comfortable with the woods and the fires than with heat pumps and digital thermostats. I am continually fascinated by the wood stove, such a technologically simple device but it must have been life altering at the time of its invention. Compared to the fireplace it uses so much less wood to create so much more heat. The iron is rarely hot to the touch yet can warm the furthest reaches of a 2200 square foot house without even using the central air fan.

I imagine a modern tipi/yurt style dwelling with a wood stove on the underground level in the exact center with on over sized cast iron chimney which runs through the center. Of course it would be a geodesic dome, predominantly translucent, I can't decide if it should be earthship style with only the southern half glass or if it should be all glass (or whatever material I will be using that will have better thermal efficiency and less weight than glass).

Ideally from a heating/cooling perspective it should be sunk into the ground on the northern side, on a south facing hill so that the ground creeps up the north face nearly to the roof. Double paned translucent panels with a large gap would be ideal. Jennifer mentioned that they have developed translucent concrete which would make for an interesting patchwork pattern. Depending on the sunlight in the climate it may be necessary to use "transition" type glass on certain exterior panels. Okay, enough writing, time to draw it.

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