A continuation of place and time

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Montana State University - Bozeman, College of Arts & Architecture


The American barn is an enigma on the landscape. A building that arouses feelings in every person. Whether recollecting a childhood memory of playing in a loft, doing barn chores at all hours of the day or that forever connection to the past wondering what it must have been like to live back then or even architecturally admiring its undeniable form. Yet they are an enigma because this embedded nostalgia we have for them is not merely enough to save a lost culture and the buildings themselves. The foundations and ideals that the barns were built on must be looked at as well. "Until quite recently, the majority of humanity still told time by the sun, organized their lives by the slow rhythms of the seasons, and lived by the traditional knowledge and beliefs of their ancestors, accumulated slowly over the course of centuries and millennia."¹ This way of life is reflected in older farm buildings and is perhaps the last remnant of that culture in the United States. Technology has changed the way we live, build and identify place, allowing us to do things we once only dreamed. In many instances the increased mechanization of farming has led to the destruction of soils, water systems and habitats, not to mention fruits and vegetables that are flavorless and covered in pesticides. Yet in recent years there has been resurgence and developing awareness of sustainable farming practices, which are based on a whole system approach whose overall goal is the continuing health of the land and people. The demand for products, such as milk from cows that have not been injected with hormones, can be seen nationwide in grocery stores. There is a growing market for the quality of food. In almost every aspect.
For example from how the cow was raised, slaughtered, stored, and finally prepared to how all of these things will effect generations to come. This regard for quality and long term planning can be expressed through buildings as well. Structures and places that have withstood the tests of time show the quality and care that was put into erecting them as well as the cultural phenomena of the time and give a sense of place. The architecture of these places was derived as a response to its immediate environment and local culture. It is important that we value this intersection because it is here that unique and diverse places emerge and contribute to our quality of life. In today's world these ideas are being ignored and many of our towns have turned into homogenous, boring, strips, erasing the foundations and ideals that each of our communities were based on. Architects therefore have a responsibility to preserve those buildings that reflect their locality, which is embedded in the culture and environment surrounding them and to adapt them in ways that are relevant to our contemporary world. By doing this we continue to sustain not only our local natural environment and heritage but leave for future generations another layer of place that continues to contribute to the quality of life in a particular location. To me this idea manifests itself in the form of a barn or farm. My strategy therefore is to adaptively reuse an old farm site into a collective sustainable farm. Landscaping and manipulating the buildings thoughtfully to bring the site into a new era that contributes to the quality of life and experience of the community and sets a precedent and awareness for generations to come.




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