Where the Sheep Live

by Mathieu

The location of one of our ongoing project has provided me the luxury of working in my back yard. My landlord keeps sheep and during the winter they need shelter to keep their feet dry.

Back in 2012 we started with a design that was inspired on the local building traditions for a schaapskooi (dutch for a sheep barn). Eventually we moved away from from this preliminary design and added and removed many other elements upon request of the client. A shingled roof instead of thatch, different wood species for the frame and other requirements brought us to a design that can only be described as a hybrid structure. I believe it still fits really well in the local landscape and it will defenitly serve it’s purpose.

I was able to lay my hands on some big sticks of beautifully fine grained and clear Oregon Pine. Usually referred to as Douglas Fur but since these sticks come from a specific region with a higher altitude some of it is very fine grained. So the story goes if I may believe the importer of this valuable cellulose composed material. All sustainably yield and certified and although I can’t help to question this certification system it does help to keep us aware of the incredible value (besides the monetary value) of this amazing wood.

Oregon Pine sticks

In the middle of the roof construction we had to come up with a solution to support two purlins in a location where I preferred to have only a single post. The collar beam was connected with a joint that ran true the post and was secured with two pegs on either side. The joint is a variation on niho sao sac hi tsugi, yes that is correct you are allowed to use Japanese joints on any type of timberframe it doesn’t necessarily need to be according a single tradition. Both arms that form the collar tie beam where then supported by a carved bracket. The whole assembly was an experiment but it proves to be extremely strong and stiff. I was happy the way it came out but didn’t realize it really looks like a Christian cross until it was installed. Maybe it will bring me one step closer to heaven…

cross collar beam

Two very competent carpenters helped me on this project doing most of the kisami (cutout).

post assembly

Some of my dear old friends where happy to come and help us during tatemai (raising), it was nice to work with them, enjoy their company and give them a sense of what I have been doing with my life for the last decade.

kanawa tsugi assembly

The large adzed Larch beam looked better then expected once in place. Ooh, what a tongue twister.

adzed Larch

The budget on this project was fairly limited and I ended up shingling the roof by myself. Luckily the weather was mild last February not the usual bone chilling damp cold which we normally have in Flanders around that time. I was able to make good progress and cover the roof before I had to move on to different projects for the time being.

schaapskooi front

At the moment we are finishing some details and by the end of this month the walls will be plastered with wattle and daub. The plastering had to wait until spring since frost might destroy a freshly plastered wall.

schaapskooi back

By the end of the month we will organize a workshop to plaster this barn and Gerrit, a very experienced local timber framer and expert plasterer will teach a two day workshop. I will reveal more about this soon here on the Fabula Lignarius blog once we have worked out all the details.

So if you feel like getting dirty and do some satisfying work while you are at it, stay tuned and subscribe to the workshop. See y’all there.