Making way for something better.

The thing is, I have refused to accept that my life would become ordinary. I have refused to accept that I would be satisfied with a 40 hour work week and a pay check. I have refused to accept that I would be satisfied with a life that requires me to focus for its duration one specific discipline, one specific focus, one specific profession. But this has caused me some pain and some confusion and some clutter. I can see how, in my defiance I have taken on more and more projects and responsibilities. The assumption in the back of my mind being that I am some kind of superman that has no limit to my ability to take on new stuff. But now, for the last few months at least I have begun with a campaign of cutting down. Taking on the farm has made me realise, number one, that this is what I really want to get right. If turning the farm into a healthy, vibrant and productive family place (perhaps like it may have been many many years before) is the one thing I achieve in my life, then I will consider that a life well spent.

Or at least this is what is running through my head as I dismantle the Hothouse that I built in 2011 to house my aquaponics pilot project. At the time I had expected it only to last a year or two so the time is right for it to go. The real pressure for it to go has of course come from my children and from my wife. They would like things to look a little neater in the backyard. I can resist. I can be forceful, but that would also not be right. So down comes the hothouse.

I had built the entire structure from scrap timber. Timber that I bought from a scrap dealer, called DIY Timber but scrap nonetheless.

I put everything together with my Ryobi Hand held electric screwdriver / drill, so taking it apart gain, involved me unscrewing the boards and the brackets. This allowed me to save most of the timber which I have now taken to the farm. I will probably use it for a new hen house project I have in mind. I must say though, that I learned a lot from taking down the hothouse. I could see what worked and what did not. The plyboard that I used to form the circular from were not a good idea. They did not hold their shape. The tunnel plastic was great. It did begin to rip but only in the top point which had a poor detail that was too sharp. I learned from this hothouse in order to be in anyway warm in the winter months, every minute of sunlight must be captured. All shadows must be avoided, and by the same token, things can get very hot in mid summer, not for the Tilapia, they love worm water, but for some of the plant species, so some way to ventilate is critical.

The timber has generally held up very well over the last three years, but where it has been in touch with moisture, either in direct contact with the soil or where tanks or filters cause continuous moisture, the timber has begun to show signs of rot.

By taking this structure down I now make it possible to build a better one. One that is an improvement on the first one. I would not be able to build a better one if the old one is still there, or it is unlikely, because some of the components need to be re-used and because it just never becomes a priority above the other items on the to do list. But what other parts of my life and my schedule have become old and tired and need to be taken down to make way for new possibilities?  Or am I extending the metaphor of the hothouse to where it does not belong. Are there some parts of the the way I do business, the way I practice as an architect, the way I invest my money, the way I spend my time, that can be dismantled, pulled apart to make way for something better. Maybe and I can see that is what I have been doing in the last while. Cutting down slowly. realising that I am human and can only do so much in a given day and in doing this maybe, just maybe, I am making way for something better.

Author: Tim Hewitt-Coleman

The World can be a better place.... But how? Taking the debate beyond the political, beyond the theoretical into the real economy, into the physical and spatial dimension where cities, landscapes and livelihoods take form.

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