During the site visit we were amazed by the way our hike was structured like a Hero’s Journey. Thinking about the land this way opened up a lot of opportunity for turning the home into more than just a house and building a wonder-filled life in the woods. This is not just about the possibility of play and discovery, but how it leads to a sense of exploration as the organizing principle of a home. The Hero’s Journey narrative structure, with its movement between the ordinary world and the special world, is much more appropriate to this project than the usual public/private movement. I think of it as community and nature.
I’ve spent the past week drawing and diagramming. Each space in the house can have these two qualities. Forward facing spaces, like the entry and the mailbox, are all the way down the slope toward community. Bedrooms, those very private spaces where each night we close our eyes and drop into wild stories, would be further up the slope toward nature, into the special world. Other spaces, like the kitchen, mix these qualities. Here, the extraordinary magic of cooking is shared in the most mundane way with the family and with guests. I’ve graphed the parts of the home onto the site at the bottom of the diagram.
In it, you can see a couple of unusual architectural typologies. The first is the Fruit Stand. These small sheds can be found all over rural America. I don’t mean here to suggest that Corey and Melissa must now sell fruit but that this kind of structure is the most outward facing structure a rural home can have. In it, products from deep in the special world can be shared with passersby. Mailboxes and information boards function like this, as do those Little Free Libraries popping up everywhere.
The other is the Folly, which is an architectural structure in the landscape with no specific purpose. I’ve located these deep into the special world of the property. They serve both to extend the functions of the house out into the woods and to map the Hero’s Journey more precisely onto the land. They can be used as the owners see fit – for occasional dinners, for playtime activities with kids, and, of course, for the telling of stories.
Overlaid on all of this are the stages of the Hero’s Journey. Yesterday we talked about how this could be applied over the years of a child’s life. We could write children’s stories that take characters on adventures into landscapes resembling the property, then the children could take those journeys for real and discover keys to understanding and developing the stories further. They could receive books in the mail as they reach certain ages, further unfolding what narratives were embedded in the landscape. We talked, too, about designing a coming-of-age ritual tied to these stories and to the land, which would be the only story to include the mountaintop (or the “Holy Mountain”), the apotheosis point on the Hero’s Journey.
I have a couple of writers and designers in mind for this; we’d have to do some reading together with Corey and Melissa, and then think about what makes sense on this particular piece of land.
But, first: thinking about making a house without furniture…