Friday, November 09, 2007

The Arc of the Sun, Over Chacala

I just received the November issue of one of my favorite English language magazines. It's called "Dwell". In one of the articles the author discussed why he was content with the length of time it took to build his small home in the mountains. He said: gave us the time to learn the land. The intimacies of the place - like the arc of the sun in the sky, the direction of prevailing winds, and a growing appreciation of the surrounding cultural landscape..
I value his remarks highly. Especially when I add a few other factors: such as recognizing the importance of shading, of natural light, of the be familiar with the direction of rainstorms, and the high humidity I wish more people who build here in Chacala would take the time to do the same thing the "Dwell" author did before he and his wife built their home.

Maybe take some time to study up, and find out about the natural setting here. Maybe stop and notice the climate. And how competent, experienced builders in the past have dealt with the problems of sun, rain, wind, and humidity here in Chacala.

But no.... Rather, the opposite is mostly what happens here. One building after another is going up around here, apparently without a moments thought to building for this climate. Or to orienting these structures. No attention appears to be paid to the arc of the sun, the prevailing breezes, the need for natural light. Nothing. Some of these places look like the cement block version of a ticky-tack from a tract in Southern California. Or tall cement block tenement from god knows where. All oriented to the street in front of them.It's the saddest thing to see. You know by looking at them that those buildings will not be comfortable to live in. Or with need after-contruction modifications. And yet they keep building them. No shading of the windows from the direct sunlight. No protected outdoor spaces where one can enjoy the cooling shade and natural breezes. No, just windows facing the southern and western skies with no allowances made for the need for shade. Or shelter from rainstorms. No outdoor cooking places for the six months of very hot and humid summers.

There are a few exceptions in Chacala from this general pattern. But only a very few.

But probably the saddest thing is what that author of the "Dwell" article mentioned at the end of the above quote. When he said they (accidentally) gave themselves time to develop
... a growing appreciation of the surrounding cultural landscape....

Some people, usually those who come here and buy a building, or have someone construct one for them without actually living here first, seem to run into trouble after they move here.
My guess is that living in Chacala wasn't quite some people imagined it would be. They jumped in with blinders on. And when the blinders come off, sometimes people are pretty unhappy.The main problem seems to be that Chacala isn't like things were where ever they lived before. Neither the culture or the people. Or the climate. Or whatever. Sometimes people have trouble living with the strangeness of it.

Oh well. I can relate to that, totally. Everyday something happens here, where I don't have much of a clue what is going on. That's life I guess.

1 comment:

Tom said...

Andee, as a builder I can say most people pick a house plan based on the floor plan, kitchen and bath layouts and special rooms for hobbies or other interests.

Then they get serious about views and will put in bigger windows and sliding doors.

Most North Americans assume they will have heat and AC so they try to design for energy efficiency.

It doesn't occur to most people that they could live with Mother Nature and use what she gives them.