Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Resort Towns are like Wood

Along with degree project I'm doing an independent study in furniture making. I'm making a tool cabinet for myself with all hand cut dovetail joinery. Today I realized (rather, I was helped to realize) the similarities in the process of furniture making and what I'm looking at in resort towns. They each have life cycles that involve long periods of dormancy, shorter periods of activity and moments of flux in between the two.

A tree grows for years and years. It takes about ten minutes to cut it down, a day to roughly mill it up. Then it stays stacked for a number of years; usually a year per inch thick. The rough hewn wood is then milled down to very close to the finished dimension for the piece. It sits again for as long as possible to ensure that the boards stay flat. Joinery can be started and the furniture made, which could last 100+ years. The tree is given new life by what it's made into. From seed to dovetail could be 20, 50, 100 years. The table breaks after a long life, its thrown out, burned, back to the earth for the cycle to start again.

Summertime is booming on Martha's Vineyard. Thousands of people come and go everyday, the beaches are packed, week rental prices are astronomical, celebrities are all over the place, and the streets are packed. As the summer winds down and fall starts, the crowds thin, days get shorter, people start moving inside at night because of the cooler nights. The towns are left in the wake of a crazy summer. As winter get closer, the ferries stop running to some harbors, the summer houses get boarded up and much of the island goes into hibernation for the winter. Spring starts, the island starts up again by fixing up and gearing up for the summer ahead. Paint is touched up, construction finishes up, houses start to get ready. A new summer, the cycle starts again.

How do we take advantage of the flux? In furniture, we make something new, give new life to the wood. What is it in architecture?

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