Archive for June, 2010

First Crop

25 June 2010

Meantime in the old summer house the vegetable garden is yielding its first crop to our guest Kate Schecter visting from Washington.. we have a fine spread of radish, white radish, parsnip, kohl rabi, carrot and multi-coloured carrot, pepper and salad leaves.

Treger

25 June 2010

As you may expect I am learning lots of new vocabulary… ‘treger’ is ‘beam’ and is constructed by placing woodern boards either side of the wall and setting reinforced concrete across the top, or, in the case that this has to be through the air you prop boards into the void.  I love the angles, the sheer basic construction, the three-dimensions, the creating.  Meantime we had a debate.  The plan has changed so often that not all changes get tracked through to all consequences as if we were amateur chess players only 2 moves ahead.  In one flash of inspiration Nazmi realised that the cars could enter the garage from the side, not the front, and that the aesthetics and practics could be changed.

The Inspectors

25 June 2010

Whenever we can after work we rush down to Runjeva would love to stay stay… grateful for the summer evenings.. although English summer with rain showers and other hindrances…  we potter around deciding on pipe positions and cold-eyeing gaps in the block work, measuring boundaries (so that the imagined chain that would traditionally channel rain from the roof edges should only fall within the land parcel), hoping to micro-pre-think the next stage before it too is fixed in cement and reinforced concrete.

Foundations

25 June 2010

Foundations of… the earth… the temple… hope… salvation… all took on richness as we laid the foundations of the house.  It is in a fixed place, it cannot be moved, it supports all that rises above.  Weak leads to collapse, strong lets you rise above.  The angle has to be right, the height has to be right, there is no ambivalance: the armatures are laid, the concrete is poured; they are here or not here.  No more change.

Clearing – A family affair

25 June 2010

We should slaughter a sheep, this is the tradition for the start of a house.  So far we have had visits with cake and havel and congratulations and special visits from Mahsud, Kadrije’s father, to supervise the start.  We should do the sheep thing and have a great party!  Well, so far, the whole family has been out to start clearing and cleaning, digging out the earth, wheeling the barrows down to ‘rrafsho’ – ‘level’ – wonderfully onomatopaeic in Albanian.  So… even Nazmi’s mum was out on the job (photo) but the young guys: Mentor, Veton, Shkelzen, Riad and friends did most of the work.

Lining Out

25 June 2010

Google again.  Really I am so impressed despite any critics.  This was the question: how to place the house in the land so that a) we could see Luboten Mountain, and, b) we did not obstruct Ylber, Nazmi’s brother, from seeing Luboten?  Actual Ylber said that he did not care, but I thought he should care anyway and secretly hoped that he would.  My current mantra: Kosovo should start with primary school and teach aesthetics and logic.  So with Google earth I drew lines from the peak of Luboten to the Berisha family estate and defined the parameters in which they could see and we could see the engimatic mountain that has fired my imagination since May 2000. 

After that we set about with sticks and string and experienced the extraordinary moment of ‘earthing’ the striking to the ground of the dreams and imaginations and sketches and hopes and possibilities… with fear and trembling the idea becomes real.

The Scarf

25 June 2010

Meantime Veku (the loom) was being pressed into its first product… a random but not unattractive scarf woven together from odd balls of wool that had followed us from Scotland (or even England)… this was our ‘sampler’ the trying out of weave styles, the making of mistakes, the winding and unwinding, the weaving and unweaving, the pattern of 1-2, 2-3, 3-4, 4-1, as if rehearsing goal scoring techniques.  Football?  Did I mention football?  My Ethiopian colleague told me a wonderful story of an Ethiopian regional governor who for the first time in his life was taken to a football match.  He leaned over to an aide and said, ‘are we really so poor that we can only afford one ball for these 22 men; next time they will have a ball each!’

Playing Architect

25 June 2010

I now realise that the vocation I should have pursued was architecture!  A little late for such realisation.  Nevertheless I rushed out and ordered a pile of architectural drawing books and wowed Mefael the village builder with concept pictures.  He was unsurprisingly unimpressed and asked for a stake in the ground where the basement corner should start!

The Plan

25 June 2010

So, the plan was moderated to a real house.  The process of evolution was: shrink, rotate, shrink, add a floor, delete a floor, shrink.  Now the house is at the bottom of the slope where it is more secure and can be reached by car in the winter!  The Google SketchUp plan is now in real use!

House Dreams

25 June 2010

In summer last year I started to work on the design of a house.  In Runjeva most things are possible; it allows you to dream.  In a hotel in Croatia by the Adriatic Sea I eventually hit on ‘the plan’.  Subsequently with Google SketchUp this grand scheme of a great house evolved.  It was to be built up on the slope with unrestricted views across to the mountain.  Dreams.  The house was too big, the plot too small, the winter too thick, the hill too steep, but the dream was running.