The heft and feel of a well-worn handle,
The sight of shavings that curl from a blade;
The logs in the wood pile, the sentiment of huge beams in an old-fashioned house;
The smell of fresh cut timber and the pungent fragrance of burning leaves;
The crackle of kindling and the hiss of burning logs.
Abundant to all the needs of man, how poor the world would be
Without wood.

Everard Hinrichs, quoted by Eric Sloane in A Reverence for Wood


Friday, May 25, 2012

Great Designs in Wood (25) - The Curves of Robert Harvey Oshatz

Glulam wood is unlimited in its application, unparalleled in its projection, and unmatched in its ability to unify man's dreams with his environment. One need look no further than these home designs by Robert Harvey Oshatz to understand what glulam wood brings within the reach of man.
The first picture is my favorite view of the Chenequa residence in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. I love the way the roof (is it justice to call that a roof? It reminds me more of a fashionable hat on a dainty movie actress of the 1930's.)...the way the roof forces us to glance unwittingly to the heavens to acknowledge the source of its inspiration. Click here to see a slide show...

The second is a view from the deck of the Wilkinson residence in the hills over Portland, Oregon. This is a place where I could while away many an evening, letting the wooden members surrounding and supporting me in the treetops release me from the cares of the day.

A slide show of the Wilkinson residence can be seen here.

The last two shots are exterior and interior views of the Fennell residence, a floating home also in the Portland area. Men have known for most of their existence that wood and water make uneasy yet inseparable partners, and where you find a waterside, you will find wooden structures. The outside view facing the shore seems to project defiantly back at the shore, "I've captured the spirit of your wood in my hull...come claim it!" While the interior view demonstrates the clean, calming lines that wood, properly done, will always provide, even in the forecastle of a nautical vessel.

The slide show is here...

I'll let Mr. Oshatz speak for himself on the inspiration for his style of design...
"An architect is an artist, creator, logician of evolving aesthetic structures; a designer of not only the visual but the internal space. I see architecture as a synthesis of logic and emotion, exploring and fulfilling the dreams, fantasies and realities of my clients, whether they are individuals, corporate, or community identities.
Except for the basic elements of design composition, dominance, transition, and identity; I stay away from design theories. They seem to be too transitory and irrelevant to my work. Design theories tend to outshine their author's performance, becoming limiting concepts, prejudicing the mind while tying one's hands behind one's back. They are roadblocks to new ideas. While subscribing to a particular theory of design an architect must solve problems within the parameters of that theory; this is limiting at best.
Without architectural theories the process of designing a structure remains in its purest form, simply solving a given problem. Design becomes a process of integrating its key ingredients… program and environment. The program (problem to be solved) is what makes a project unique, and the seed of a solution is found within the problem itself. An opportunity exists within every design to develop a unique solution. The environment is the source of a projects poetic sense. Every site has its own character; the challenge to the architect is to capture that character and translate its spirit into architectural poetry."

The proof  of one's approach to work, or to life, is in the fruits of their labor. Mr. Oshatz needs no further proof of his personal insight, than these.


Anonymous said...

how much higher in costs is it to build a home out of wood? also it as durable?

what about fire places?

Chuck Ray said...


Compared to what...mud, or titanium?

What about fireplaces??? They are a place for fire...