When a circa 1949 potato barn in Prineville, Oregon was under deconstruction, tranquility and harmony were not the words to describe the process. Three years later, under the thoughtful eye and hand of woodworker, Andrew Scott, the reclaimed lumber from that potato barn is creating tranquility, harmony, and beauty in the Desert Rain landscape. Scott is using the reclaimed wood from the potato barn to build gates and fences that create privacy and frame the views on the site. For the Desert Rain project, he wanted to represent the energy of the Living Building Challenge while respecting the environment, keeping a light footprint, and reflecting the nature of the project.
Scott wanted to soften the lines and hard edges of the structures with natural and organic imagery. His background in acupuncture and traditional Chinese medicine and the design of the project inspired his work. Images and symbols are carved on the tops of the posts – some visible, some out of view unless one knows where to look. The Chinese gate that enters the courtyard is supported by posts appropriately carved with a sun symbol on the right and raindrops or a snowfield on the left. The carvings represent yin yang, a primary guide to traditional Chinese medicine describing how contrary forces are complimentary and interconnected. Simplified, the yang side is male, fire, light. The yin side is earth, female, softness, water. How fitting that the name ‘Desert Rain’ invokes the concept of yin yang – contradictory yet interdependent, as the house needs the sun for energy and the rain for its water source.
Scott often incorporates hummingbirds into his woodworking and there is one at Desert Rain. Images of other regional wildlife grace the posts -an osprey, rattlesnake, and Great Blue Heron. The resident deer are represented by deer tracks at the entrance. The sense of discovery will be a delight to visitors as they tour the site and find art in the timbers and structures of the landscape.
Scott had not heard of the Living Building Challenge before Desert Rain. The biggest difference for him with this project was using reclaimed wood. He spent hours sorting through piles of 2” x 12”, weathered, barn boards searching for the right pieces that would sandwich the Forest Stewardship Council certified plywood on the privacy panels. He wanted wood with character; knots, grain, and lichen attached that will hopefully, continue to grow, bringing life and natural beauty to the boards. The challenges came with the FSC plywood that he could not have delivered to his shop as he is not FSC certified. Since the fences and gates are near the last elements to be constructed in the landscape, Scott had a very long wait to begin his work.
When asked how he became part of the Desert Rain team, Scott said he is friends with Barb and Tom. They spent 18 days together when he rowed for them on a float trip through the Grand Canyon where he got to know them well. He sees Desert Rain as a beautifully designed prototype to encourage other similar projects. Scott said, ‘I honor Barb and Tom for their vision and their energy and willingness to spend the money with this project. I am most fortunate to have been involved with this.’
Scott appreciates the artistic license he was given to be inspired by the site, the design, and the project. The top curve of the entrance gate gracefully curves upward. The curve is the same radius as the Miro wall that flows through the structure and into the courtyard interconnecting beauty and design. The posts that create the arch are carved with Chinese characters chosen by Scott for their significance to Desert Rain. Everyone who follows the path through the entrance gate will be embraced by Andrew Scott’s artistry and inspiration, into the realm of tranquility and harmony.