Everything changes. Our plans are everything at this stage. We break ground in a few weeks. As soon as the bank appraisal process is complete and the necessary permits are in hand we can start.
We have sat on the edge of this building process for far longer than we wanted. But then we are now building something much different than we originally foresaw. And in High Cove, a much better place than where we were a year ago.
Over the coming year this series of articles will describe aspects of our building process as they evolve. This article describes the current design concept. Again – everything changes. I am late finishing this article and this weekend the end if the 1st weekend of May our design is changing again.
Early in our relationship, Victoria and I started evolving a reoccurring theme around home as a place for us by mixing Annie Dillard’s Pilgrim at Tinker Creek with seasonal trips to cabins to experience the season in specific places. In those earlier days camping brought us even closer together and bonding closer to nature.
The process leading us to High Cove and this specific design began by defining in realistic in terms our collective wants and needs. The house needed to include my studio. I need to live and work in close proximity. Victoria needed a simple clean atmosphere to live comfortably and more minimally. Together we needed the space to be manageable financially and physically. Our combined aesthetics were proven, so we proceeded to find the right geographic area.
Texas, where we lived, was too hot. New Mexico was too expensive. The Rockies were too high and the air too thin. New Orleans was too dirty. The coast was either too hot and overpopulated with as my college geography professor described, “loose people drawn by their idealist senses to the coasts” or way too expensive for our meager budget. So we settled here where there is a well crafted art community we both respect tremendously, four very distinct seasons and a climate that requires fewer heating and cooling days that anywhere we had previously considered.
The climate and lush environment make this area heaven to me.
The first site we found and bought here, just south of Bakersville on Duck Branch Road provided Victoria with the long view she craved. From the top of our Duck Branch site you can see five distinct eco systems from Green Mountain and Devils Nest to Roan Mountain and the unique ecological strata that drew early western American researcher Asa Grey. One or two early cabin sites with a stray apple tree beside one site suggested an interesting history to collected in bits and pieces… but alas… even our most scaled down design concepts the house plans for a house and studio at the top of the site would have meant destroying the character and quality of the site.
So, about this time a year ago, Victoria’s research found the High Cove community while I was installing a large scale community based project in Mobile Alabama.
I visited High Cove a few weeks later and everything changed again. Beech Branch sealed the deal for me.
Designing a home and studio within the confines of lot 15 and without disturbing Beech Branch became the first riddle to solve. The entrance from Appalachian Way only a short distance from the best site on the lot limited the major grading and reshaping to the upper reaches of the site. The lower and more precious portions of the site could be preserved, if we stay diligent.
The house and studio plans for the Duck Branch site began as two rectangular buildings joined at a corner and sharing a southern exposure courtyard on the site’s razorback ridge. Over time the alchemical design process enhanced by Alembic Studio distilled our footprint ever smaller. We gave up lot of our more basic “wants” to the elemental needs to mesh with the contour of the site.
I will pick up this thread of an article, again, soon and continue the evolving story of change that will build our High Cove home on Beech Branch.