I come from small town America where farmland is of plenty and buildings are relatively few. While small town America does not offer too many pilgrimage sites for architects, I do think that there is a charm in the history of materials that can be found smattered across the plains. Wood is the particular material on my mind. In a couple weeks I will be heading home to see family and on my way I anticipate seeing the charming old barns of faded red wood.
Reclamation of wood has become popular for a number of reasons including: its charming vintage quality, and with its use, one recycles, reduces, and reuses, all good qualities of a sustainable approach in material selection. I stumbled upon a company a while back when “Pinning” precedents for wooden cladding systems. The company is Barnwood Naturals, LLC, founded by Bruce Wadleigh of Salem, Oregon. His work is inspiring in both process and result. The company salvages wood from old structures within a 500-mile radius from where they are located, and designs and builds using the 100% reclaimed materials (including nails!). During the process of reclamation the company also takes time to document the history of the building so something can be left behind as a memory of what was or as a story from where the materials came. Below are examples of the work by Barnwood Naturals, LLC.
Naturally, knowing that my home turf is speckled with old barns, I assumed that Minnesota would have a similar service to Barnwood Naturals. I went in search for the Minnesota version and found many companies that reclaim wood and offer it for sale. In comparing the companies out of Minnesota, I felt that I was finding too much of a commercialized approach. I really appreciated the care for documentation that Barnwood Naturals advertised and I was willing to find this out about the company by meandering through their website. The companies that came up first in my Google search for MN reclaimed wood, however, were easily dismissed by their corporate-esque approach to advertisement and web design. Perhaps I am not giving them much of a chance, but the way one sells their product really makes all of the difference.
I was able to find Time Worn of Minnesota that compared better to Barnwood Naturals. The couple that runs Time Worn is Jared and Amanda Groebner, the “Head Dude” and the “Boss of Everything,” their titles respectively. Based on these titles alone, Time Worn presents a business sense more connected with a process of old wood reclamation, a process that I feel should be region specific and personal, tied to the history, but creating beautiful and contemporary work.
Wonderful and great concept, just I find it difficult to actually convince people to install something similar in reality…
Do you think that reclaimed wood should be used in a non-rural setting that decontextualizes it and gives it a higher emphasis? What do you think the “old barns” of American will look like in 100-200 years? Will we have a similarly beautifully weathered landscape of barns with the materials we build barns with today?
I wrote about a similar issue, https://arch5541.wordpress.com/2012/11/03/barnitecture/