Construction Update: Buttresses Take Flight, Settle in

Every now and then we see a dramatic change in the appearance of the house.  Long periods pass when little shows on the outside, and than, Whammo! something big happens.

Last week the buttresses that will support the greenhouse wall ( or roof, maybe?  I’m not sure how you know where a slanted wall becomes a roof…) came in. This was a very big day! Here is the first one getting a lift from the crane.

A buttress in flightThe steel buttresses weigh 2400 pounds, are 12 inches in depth, and nearly 48 feet long.  It’s dangerous work, this matter of placing big pieces of steel exactly where they need to go. The general contractor moved his crew out of the way and left the job to the steel workers. It’s amazing how these men can take an enormous machine and perform delicate little adjustments with it.

Here, below, the buttresses are settled into place.

Buttresses getting seated

This is what they rest on:

Feet on the ground

The bolts are 1 inch in diameter. Note the adjustable bracket to create the proper angle with the roof (the real roof above the greenhouse), seen here:

At the topHere is the view from the southwest, showing the four big buttresses in place:

The buttresses enclosing the future greenhouse

It gives the house its final line — we can see the shape it will actually take. We knew this from the model we made, but it’s different to see it in actual stone and steel. It changes the proportion of things altogether. Shrinks the house to normal size, I think.

Meanwhile, around the north side, we can take a look at the back door.

Arch-eryThis is kind of a ratty picture because of the work going on and the angle of the sun this time of year, but it will give you an idea of what we’re trying to do. The wooden forms are for the switch-back ramp that will provide no-stairs access to the attic. The bulky space beneath the ramp will be earth-filled, extending the earth-sheltering of the north side to include the second floor. Meanwhile, we’ve echoed the arch of the studio workshop in the arch of the attic entry. Trying to decide what to call this, I just looked up “portico” to see whether that word can apply to an entry without the colonnade I associate with Greek architecture. And I came up with this delightful noun, courtesy of Merrian-Webster:  ambulatory: a sheltered place (as in a cloister or church) for walking. This is surely the ambulatory to the attic. It will have a little bench where a person can sit and take off the muddy boots, set the trash about to go into the recycle bin, or rest the load of provisions coming in. The door under the arch will be sheltered from wind and rain. It is, in all, a lovely ambulatory. And, yes, I think a portico can do without the colonnade.

Published in: on March 8, 2009 at 2:26 pm  Comments (2)  

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2 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. I’ve always loved the idea of an ambulatory. And I always call my upstairs sitting room, that gets all the sun, ‘the solar’ after the Elizabethan custom of having a long upstairs chamber with many windows where the ladies could work at their embroidery and spinning and enjoy the sunlight.

    May your house go well.

    Thanks, Jo. I’m thinking our great room, which will look out through the greenhouse, ought to be a fine solar, conducive to handwork!


  2. Okay, so the upstairs will be all open-roofed? Greenhouse style? Or not? I can see that the downstairs will look out through the greenhouse, but that second floor with the buttresses…will it be glass-roofed? Hmm…I had another question, but now I’ve forgotten what it was…brain rot continues! The house looks quite huge! And is coming along. I’ll bet you’re eager to get into it.

    Now, once you move in, the studio will be used for fiber arts? Other arts? Does that mean you WON”T be sitting in your great room spinning, for it will be delegated to the studio.

    The second floor will look out through the greenhouse, too. Above it, the attic is enclosed by a metal “standing seam” roof that will carry the solar panels. Bear in mind, one reason the house looks so big is the wide-angle lens. The other reason is, the walls are a foot thick. Otherwise, the inside living space is fairly reasonable.

    I think I will be found spinning in the “Solar” as well as in the studio. Certainly knitting! Yes, fiber arts in the studio. Also other arts. It’s my hope the large-scale messes can be kept to the studio! Ha. Smelly stuff like washing wool, dyeing, leather adhesives and dyes, messes like glass cutting — wouldn’t it be nice to have those out of the house? Yes!


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