Building Philosophy and Design

Henry Wiersma:

“I have worked as a builder and carpenter for thirty-five years. With my own construction company I often tried to push the boundaries of the conventional system in the past by employing R2000 methods, etc., but as I became more and more interested in the potential of natural construction I realized that I needed to make a significant change in my own building practices.  Five years ago I decided to join the renaissance of natural building by shifting the focus of my company to a combination of compressed earth blocks and straw bale construction.   

With the current building project at Fifth Wind farm I am interested in addressing and offering a solution to the straight walls and rectangular boxes that the contemporary western world has adopted due to the economic reproducibility of such a shape.  I suspect that our addiction to consumerism is aided at least in part by this need to fill in the harsh corners of our rooms with objects – a lamp, an arm chair.  Very seldom are these corners left unfilled, as if we are unconsciously attempting to smooth out the sharp edges in our quest for comfortable homes. 

From the beginning I was drawn to the idea found in sacred geometry of the squaring of the circle as a central feature for the design of the demonstration building at Fifth Wind farm. In this geometry the perimeter of the square is equal to the circumference of the circle and the radius creates the height of the pyramid.  The great pyramids in Egypt were built using this formula.  Sacred geometry is the concept that symbolic and sacred meanings are ascribed to certain geometric shapes and proportions, such as the golden mean.  The shape of a circle within a square is clearly visible in the photos of the building project (at Construction of Demonstration Home).  As a form based in sacred geometry, the squaring of the circle design creates a harmonic balance within the space. 

Building material is also important to me.  After my years working in conventional construction with its often highly concentrated materials derived from petrochemical industries I feel a heightened sense of responsibility to utilize a more sustainable approach.  The demonstration building, with its compressed clay block walls, straw bales and repurposed wood makes this project what I like to think of as a “Hundred Mile House.”  Almost all of the material comes from the local economy within a hundred miles.  

Just as a body can become ill from over-saturation by too much highly processed industrialized food, I believe that our spiritual and emotional selves can also be negatively affected by harsh, synthetic environments.  Wood, stone, straw and clay give the body a chance to slow down, to rest. I am interested in an architecture that allows the holistic body to thrive.”

Come for a visit.