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8/18/08

Architectural Salvage: Reuse, Respect. No Perfect Prefab Affordably Touches The Unique Elements of Salvage.

There are elements in our modern casa ti SIP house kit that I envision like the old bridal tradition:
"Something Old, Something New, Something Borrowed, Something Blue."

As much as I appreciate turnkey prefab, there's something in my farming Virginia soul that insists upon reusing items from the past, within our architectual structure.

Using the latest green building technology, merged with timeless passive solar design, I now begin to focus on the interior. In my mind, I meld industrial modern elements with nostalgic reused materials:

  • the sophisticated strength of a poured, polished concrete floor (which also collects thermal mass, and with fly ash, reuses local byproducts!)
  • juxtaposed with the natural embrace of sustainable pine walls
  • deft, no nonsense modern lines of built-ins
  • the faded tales told by old wooden doors through whom how many hands and lives passed through?
  • And if we're lucky, a special, plain, reused farmhouse or commercial sink.
Strolling through research, I came across CoolStuffIsCoolStuff.com and other neat architectural salvage sites. I will be sticking closer to home and shopping locally at Caravati's, but did want to mention a special site, Second Chance. There, not only do they repurpose materials and give old buildings new life, but they also give people another shot at opportunity and learning valuable skills.

From their web site, here's what they say:

"Job Training
Second Chance is working with low-income residents of Baltimore to train them in a wide variety of skill sets, ranging from carpentry to craftsmanship. Our goal is to create skilled workers making a living wage with benefits for themselves and their families.

Through the use of public and private funds, we teach our workers to safely deconstruct a building without damaging its historic elements. They become self-supporting members of the community with new skill sets.

At Second Chance, we believe that second chances are not just for buildings, they are for people, too. "

Like the bridal saying, sometimes "something borrowed" might mean borrowing on the strength of community and pooled skills, and recognition that when community comes together to help others succeed, we all benefit.

Whether it be good friends helping out for a few weekend hours as we work on a house kit project together, helping my family but where the structure and land will be a benefit to all our friends, or craftsmen investing their time in training someone new to later help them on future projects and rely on them as part of their paid, skilled team.

Sometimes, pushing ahead with the advances of cutting-edge green building technology, what we also need is a good ole fashioned barn-raising.

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