Saturday, August 4, 2012

Dry Stone Gothic Arch project


Dry Stone Gothic Arch

I have to start here with these cantilevered stairs before I talk about the arch. These wind up the hill to the arch with the retaining wall eventually turning into a low fence/ bench seat before the arch.


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When I designed this detail I wanted our stairs and retaining wall to wind like a ribbon up the hill-around the trees-into an arch- and then into a low 24" tall retaining wall that ran up hill to another set of stairs.


This is my foundation on the left side for the dry stone arch. It is about 24"tall and the beginning of the low dry stone retaining wall. The piece of granite on the right came from a large boulder on site that we split down, leveled off, and shot up the hill with an extension fork lift. It weighs about 2 tons.
On a side note here are the other 2 pieces of granite we used for gate posts up by the house. We are lucky to have a black smith in Bellingham to collaborate with, Arron Loveitt of Altility.
altilityartstudio.com

Here is the gate he designed. It covers up the gas meter, and invokes a sense of private space. This granite split beautifully using feathers and wedges into three  usable pieces. 

You can see the retaining wall taking shape in context to the wall/arch/column.
At about this point I wanted to add another detail for our client in this arch for a finer detail. We wove in an Ogee Arch cut from Penn. Blue stone. On the lintel we cut in the phrase... 'Land of the Free & Home of the Brave'. It looks beautiful. We also cut in holes for recessed lights within it. What is also nice about adding this detail is that it gives the arch another column that accentuates the voussoirs(the stone for the corners of the gothic arch).


We finally got the column up to height to insert our form.
Up with the form, and the scaffolding! You can see the top step and bench wall all tied together before we cut our cap stones and installed them. All these stones are hand carried up the hill by the way! We spend a lot of time laughing at each other under some absurdly heavy stone that we carry up each day. 80% of the stones find a home in the project as a wall stone... the rest wind up as hearting(fill stone) having fractured under our hammer....

Here is a detail of the Ogee Arch. You can't read the inscription because we just rinsed the wall down.
Here we are looking down from the upper path, by the gate. We installed the arch here in the clients landscape so they would have visual access to it from the bedroom windows.



The arch is coming up nicely, and I am super happy with how level I have been able to keep my column courses. At almost 7' in height it barely moves when we push on it from the side. We put our cap stone on the low bench/fence wall. It is not tied into the arch at all. Life on the scaffolding has been challenging to say the least.
So...
Here we are as of yesterday. I am cutting cap stone for the top of the wall for more weight, to keep water out of the wall, add height and remove the neighbors landscape from view. I am planning on adding a couple layers of turf flipped over for the top to plant native plants on. It should look older and pretty cool when we are done....
I think we are at about 7' or so  below the caps.

And we are still looking for our key stone for the arch....

We found it sitting right by our truck!
Here Gary Henderson is drilling holes to split off 1/3 of this boulder
to generate enough material we can continue to split into our keystone.

You really need to split off a larger chunk than you need, so as you continue to shape it, you have enough mass on the material you want to remove to control it evenly. That was our split with 'feathers and wedges'... 5 setups to reveal the key stone. Patience and consistency lead to great results.

View from the cantilevered stairs looking up at the arch.

So there we are! The arches turned out great. What a journey! I love that we can take a few basic rules-for dry stone walling, apply exceptions to those rules & discipline, and build exceptional details in the landscape.
Here we are looking the other direction. I love how it feels like two totally different arches from each side. Essentially they are, as visually you have totally different language in the landscape that informs the arch and the viewer.

I like how dramatic this is... subtly revealing other details.




3 comments:

  1. Your descriptions simplify what may well be complex architecture. Sounds like humbling work, stunning results.

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  2. Great job can't wait to see every thing. Thank you for taking the to share your story of your job. Love all the colors of the stones. Thats alot of stone hauling....

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  3. RR-
    Thank you...

    Mark J-
    I am glad you like it! You would enjoy building one also. Just pick a site not on a hill!

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