architecture / landscape / modern living / people

The Crib

Ralph Waldo Emerson once said: “Every spirit builds itself a house; and beyond its house, a world; and beyond its world a heaven…build, therefore, your own world.”

There exists an innate human desire to make one’s place upon the earth, a perch for surveying creation, a place away from it all, for “hearing” the silence, and seeing stars at night.The well publicized little white board and batten shack on the hills of Upper Tract, West Virginia that architect Jeffery Broadhurst built a few years ago was an exercise in monastic restraint – a self executable rigor where intuition won over cerebral in achieving a physical expression defying the presence of an architect. Architects so rarely succeed in making buildings as well placed and beautiful as the vernacular residuals left behind by frontiersmen and farmers. The Shack at Hinkle Farm was that, and it spawned a new idea: Now, Maryland-based Broadhurst Architects has teamed with master builders Alan Kanner and Richard Hazboun of Added Dimensions, Inc. (a choice builder for David Jameson, Mark McInturff, Robert Gurney, and Cole Prevost) to offer an affordable kit-of-parts solution for those seeking to build their own little place. “The Crib” as it’s called, inspired by the form and imagery of vernacular American corn cribs, is an incremental and modular cabin design made of shop built components and delivered to an owner’s land ready to assemble. Uses range from backyard studio to weekend retreat away from home. There are two models and handfuls of add-on options, with a starting price at around $57,000 for the Basic Crib (excluding site work, foundation, and utility costs).

Broadhurst says,  “We anticipate that The Crib can be assembled and completed on-site within five to ten days of delivery depending on the selected model and features. As we are in the early stages of marketing The Crib, we are offering an 8% reduction in the price of a Crib to a few folks in various parts of the country in order to get them assembled and seen by more people.”

Images by Broadhurst Architects

The building team is scheduled to complete construction of the first prototype in May and erect The Crib over a five-day period on the grounds of the Strathmore Arts Center in Bethesda , Maryland. The public is invited to visit and experience the project in person.

UPDATE: Photos of completed prototype here.

visit The Crib for more information.

Architect’s Description: This new building takes its basic form from traditional American corn cribs which were common farm buildings that served to store and dry corn as well as protect it from rodents. Here the form is realized by the use of a shop-fabricated galvanized steel bent structural system as a nod to traditional wood timber framing and with the structural simplicity of a common scaffolding system. Manufactured wood beams connect the bents. Structural insulated panel (SIP) floor and roof systems, wall panels of unpainted heat-treated native (and fast growing) poplar and recyclable translucent insulating multi-layer polycarbonate sheets make up the structure’s skin. The prefabricated wall panels are weather-stripped and clipped into the framework. The simple structural concept of The Crib allows considerable flexibility in the length of the building and degree and type of outfitting.

The simple structural concept of The Crib allows considerable flexibility in the length of the building and degree and type of outfitting. The Full Crib is a 250 square foot habitable space suitable for weekend recreational use, backyard home office, studio, or guest cottage. The two outdoor decks increase the livable area to about 370 square feet. The building can be elevated on an enclosed foundation to house a bathroom and mechanical and storage spaces, or guest room (increasing the total area to about 500 square feet), or may be supported by four simple concrete piers in other locations and circumstances. The building can be heated with a small propane-fired stainless steel fireplace and/or an electric or hydronic radiant floor system. Solar hot water and photovoltaics can be integrated into the structure. The option of a small well-outfitted “kitchen in a box”allows for many of the comforts of home. The building is designed to resist rodents, bears, and undesirable visitors by securely closing down when not in use. Wood shutters secure any ground-level openings; an awning swings down to form a storm door to cover the glass door/wall, and the aluminum stair system hinges up off of the ground and locks in an inaccessible position. Other possible features include LED lighting and a ladder accessed sleeping loft. The Crib includes a small entry deck and a larger deck space on the opposite side that extends the habitable space in favorable weather. This deck is accessed through an aluminum and insulated glass garage door that allows a connection between the interior of The Crib and the landscape.


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