Log Cabin of Theseus

"Split a piece of wood, and I am there."

The initial concept was primarily a formal one. We extruded a quarter circle profile and then realized that the form looked like a typical log, the kind that a person who lives in a rural area would have to chop for their fireplace in order to maintain a reasonable human temperature for the duration of the winter months.

The roof presented an architectural problem which we did not encounter on the Architectural Registration Exam, or in our years of practice. Snow loads on the circular roof act like a flat roof near the top of the circle, a sloped roof in the middle section, and a wall near the bottom. It wasn't too difficult, but we just had to make sure that the snow loads near the top were not so great as to potentially compromise the structure.


The structure, deck, roof shingles, and interior finishes are all made out of wood. The house is a full scale model of a single piece of wood. It's not quite biomimicry, but the house is employing the model of the material from which it is built to recreate its original condition.
We all remember Thesseus's ship, the wooden ship that was slowly replaced piece by piece until the entire ship was comprised of new pieces. Is it still the same ship? Likewise, if this log cabin is comprised of chopped up pieces of wood, is it still a tree? After all, there's life happening within its enclosure. Water is flowing and the inhabitants are presumably conscious.

Many digital designers will turn their attention to the texture mapping of the roof shingles. In our so-called post-digital times, some may think that it is radical or innovative to recreate the visual effect of the distorted texture map in the construction details. The common refrain in contemporary discourse is that translating the interface aesthetics of digital tools into built architecture will create an empowering environment for technologically-driven regimes. Here at TREES we would tend to resist this way of thinking as instrinsically subversive. The monumentalization of digital space defeats its original project of dematerialization. In any case, there are likely boring building code limits on the distance between lapped shingles. The building code is not just there to be a hinderance to designers. It is related to the limits in performance of the roofing materials.

From this particular view you can't see the primary facade, but I can assure you that it's a very nice facade with well-proportioned and generous windows that provide decent views to the surrounding landscape which is said by the local people to be reasonably enchanted.