When I was a kid, I was a prodigious fort builder. It started indoors, as it always does, with pillows and couch cushions. Once a little older, I headed into the badlands of the backyard. I shot passages through clusters of boxwoods by clearing out undergrowth and strategically snapping branches. I dug trenches with a shovel I could barely handle and roofed them with sticks, crawling into the little hollows and listening to the traffic eroding down the road. Eventually, with much help from my father, I put up a treehouse that survived a decade in a half-rotten mulberry, complete with rope ladder and rickety rail.
Even as a teenager, I found occasion for constructing a temporary refuge. As a Boy Scout, for my Wilderness Survival badge, I built a lean-to and spent a miserable, sweaty night inside, warding off the rain wrapped in a poncho. The next day, my left eye was swelled shut with poison ivy contracted while I foraged for materials. I put all of these together before I had any formal training in architecture or building. The term of art for this practice is "vernacular" -- of or pertaining to the common style of a time or place, especially the common building style of a time or place.Read More