Posts Tagged ‘wooden’

Apelle – boat-like house by Finnish architect Marco Casagrande

Monday, May 6th, 2013

Apelle house by Marco Casagrande

Another pleasing structure by Finnish architect Marco Casagrande. (See other projects here.) Called Apelle, it’s made to resemble a boat, and was in fact assembled by local boat carpenters.

“Apelle is a wooden one family house located in Karjaa, Finland. The building rests in a natural harbor like a boat in a sheltering pocket surrounded by bed rocks and trees. The interior space of Apelle is a continuous tube that grows gradually along the house and through the main opening and terrace into the forest. Along this axis the collective and private actions are tuned according to the times, functions and needs of the day and night.  The same space is used for everything from sleeping to eating and from socializing to work as a studio space or a gym. This kind of multi-functional space of “tupa” or “pirtti” is common in traditional Finnish architecture. A free standing cube serves for water with a sleeping loft on top…

Apelle is well insulated with wood based materials and during the harsh winters it heats up by thermal heating supported by two fire-places. The main building volume is structurally supported by a smaller volume on the side acting as an outrigger.
Apelle is built by two local carpenters used to for building both houses and wooden boats. According to the carpenters, this is a boat.”

Apelle house by Marco Casagrande - fireplace

Apelle house by Marco Casagrande

Apelle_Interior_Marco Casagrande

The largest clear-span wooden building in the world – Tillamook Air Museum

Sunday, March 17th, 2013

137  Just the sheer size of this hanger is incredible to behold. Tillamook Air Museum

The largest clear-span wooden building in the world, constructed entirely without glue wood, was built as a U.S. military air station hangar. It is now the Tillamook Air Museum in Oregon. More info here and Wikipedia.

It’s nice to see communities saving these old military hangars. It is a tragedy that Vancouver lost its 5 vintage military hangars at Jericho Beach in Vancouver in the late 1970s. They were beautiful. I heard about the Tillamook hangar from Vancouver architect Mark Osburn who was, incidentally, responsible for the interior refurbishment of one of the Jericho hangars for UN Habitat 1976.

There’s been a lot of talk lately about wooden skyscrapers and large wooden buildings, as if it’s a new thing. The architecture of this hangar is an unsung feat far preceding these newer, much-hyped ideas.

There are different criteria for ranking wooden buildings by size; as noted above the Tillamook hangar is the largest clear-span wooden building. It is not the tallest, and it may not be largest when measured by square footage of usable floor space.

Other large buildings, based on various criteria:
Tōdai-ji in Nara, Japan
Metropol Parasol palace in Sevilla, Spain  (freestanding structure, not enclosed building)
Sutyagin House, Russia – largest wooden single family house, built by Russian gangster
Wooden skyscrapers are planned for Austria and Norway and more recently one has been proposed by Vancouver’s Michael Green. And of course there was the Wood Innovation and Design Centre to be built in Prince George, British Columbia, meant to be the tallest wood building the world, but so far unbuilt due to monies promised by the BC gov’t but not budgeted for or delivered.

Photos by hobbitcamera and Laurentiu Cristofor on Flickr and Mark Osburn.

Oregon military hangar

139 During WWII at Tillamook Air base Tillamook, Or

135 Tillamook Air Museum in Tillamook, Oregon

Hangar B interior view facing South

Hangar B West wall

128 Large hangars would hold blimps at Tillamook Air base during WWII

Chalet kitchen door

Tuesday, October 9th, 2012

Antique kitchen door in German chalet, part of the set of UK film “Chalet Girl” starring Felicity Jones and Bill Nighy. Fluff film, but great set. Is this a common door design in the alps? I like it despite or perhaps because of its excess, both in aesthetic and the amount of wood used. Strange and beautiful.

Wooden chandelier, Northern Rockies Lodge

Monday, July 9th, 2012

Northern Rockies Lodge, Muncho Lake - chandelier

Chandelier at Northern Rockies Lodge on Muncho Lake, Northern BC. Wooden rounds each hole-sawn to house a pot light. It was really quite beautiful.

The lodge is on the Alaska Highway that stretches from Dawson Creek BC to Alaska. It was built in 1942 at the request of the US government, worried about Russia during World War II. The Americans supplied all the labour. It changed the entire region instantly.

Northern Rockies Lodge, Muncho Lake - wooden map
Handmade wooden map of whole region, with the lodge the red-roofed building at centre

Northern Rockies Lodge, Muncho Lake
Lodge seen from the Twin Otter of pilot Urs, who also owns the lodge. You can see the Alaska Highway run along the lake.

Northern Rockies Lodge, Muncho Lake
An older part of the lodge built by much earlier owners, who were Scottish.

Northern Rockies Lodge, Muncho Lake - mermaid

Westnofa chair

Wednesday, May 30th, 2012


Perhaps I don’t understand the business side of design and furniture manufacturing, but I’m always confused by the fact that certain historic chairs get re-licensed and reproduced, while others fade away. Often the ones that fade away are the ones I like most, while the ones reproduced ad infinitum are not my favourites. I find this odd.

Recently I bought a vintage 1970s (?) chair from a secondhand shop (photos at bottom). I was told it was made by a Norwegian company called Westnofa.  When I searched Westnofa online, I first discovered photos of the chair at top, which I prefer to mine. Mine’s nice, but this one is almost sculpture. Photos are from plastolux on Flickr. Thanks to Tyler for his permission to use these. See his whole Westnofa set.

Further research on Westnofa suggests that it was not a manufacturer but rather an exporter of furniture made by other designers and companies. It is now hard to determine who actually designed each chair they exported. For instance, I was told that the chair I bought was either designed by Ingmar Relling or his brother, but I can’t verify that. He definitely designed one called the Siesta Chair, and this one gets lumped into it.

This interesting comment comes from the Design Addict forums:

Westnofa wasn’t an actual furniture company. Created in the 50s it was an export company for several manufacturers, including Stokke, etc to keep up with the international market, since Norway was kind of in a black hole in regards to the furniture market at that point in time. The companies that exist today that call themselves Westnofa, there is one in Canada that makes health and industrial furniture and the one left in Norway, that makes plastic products for Stokke still, have nothing really to do with the original Export company. It is almost impossible to figure out(at least so far for myself) to find out who the original designers of the miscellaneous Westnofa furniture are, and when I say miscellaneous I mean the pieces other than their famous “chair and matching ottoman” which are found easily. For example I have a dining room set with Westnofa tag that is black, art deco style with a floating glass top, bent wood chairs with hairpin legs. An amazing piece and obviously designed by a great, whether it be Opsvik, or another I don’t know. I’ve been trying and researching for months trying to learn about it, but to no avail….

In any case, I wish some of these chairs would be reissued. Pax to the Barcelona chair, but enough! Let’s give some credit to some other good designers. Also, let’s see some leather in colours other than brown and tan. Yellow? Orange?



Below is the Westnofa chair I bought. It’s the single most comfortable chair I’ve ever sat in. By a long shot. And despite the fact that it has had a lot of wear, it’s still utterly sturdy, no sway or movement. I like the chrome legs joined by blocks of unstained walnut. Also, the two cushions seem to be down-filled.

If anyone knows more about Westnofa, or either of these chairs, please comment here! I’m particularly interested in the reason for the four oblong rings at top and front corners.

Westnofa Chair - rear view

Westnofa Chair - front

Westnofa Chair - rear long shot

Westnofa Chair - seat

Westnofa Chair - chrome & walnut base


Oldest known Neanderthal house found in Ukraine – made from woolly mammoth bones

Thursday, December 22nd, 2011

Why do discoveries of ancient houses make me so happy? A 44,000 year old Neanderthal bone house has been found near Moldova in Eastern Ukraine. It’s a nearly circular structure made from woolly mammoth bone, and it’s 26 feet wide at its widest point – that’s pretty substantial, the same width as the little church I live in. The bone house is delicately decorated with carvings and ochre pigments. 25 hearths were unearthed inside, suggesting it was inhabited over a long period of time. Now it appears Neanderthals weren’t really the stupid “cavemen” we thought they were: evidence is growing that they cooked vegetables, buried their dead, produced jewelry and sophisticated tool sets, and probably had language. They ostensibly disappeared just 10,000 yeas after modern man arrived in Europe, but it seems likely that Neanderthals and modern humans interbred. More on that here.

The use of bone is likely due to its availability as well as to a scarcity of wood. There are no photographs of the dig site yet. By the way, the artist’s rendering above clearly shows a modern human, not a Neanderthal. Nice furs. Via the Telegraph and Digital Journal.

“Laëtitia Demay, an archaeologist who led the research, said: “It appears that Neanderthals were the oldest known humans who used mammoth bones to build a dwelling structure.

“This mammoth bone structure could be described as the basement of a wooden cover or as a windscreen.

“Neanderthals purposely chose large bones of the largest available mammal, the woolly mammoth, to build a structure.

“The mammoth bones have been deliberately selected – long and flat bones, tusks and connected vertebrae – and were circularly arranged.

“The use of bones as building elements can be appreciated as anticipation of climatic variations. Under a cold climate in an open environment, the lack of wood led humans to use bones to build protections against the wind.”

The bone structure … was constructed of 116 large bones including mammoth skulls, jaws, 14 tusks and leg bones.”

By the way, this is by no means the oldest hominid-built structure in the world. A simple wooden structure found outside Tokyo was built 500,000 years ago by Homo Erectus.

“It consists of what appear to be 10 post holes, forming two irregular pentagons which may be the remains of two huts. Thirty stone tools were also found scattered around the site.”

This post brought to you by the random Archaeology Enthusiasts service of this blog.