Thursday, July 14, 2011

The Arch Experiment

In order to create the sloping arched structure of the witchott, Coby and his team experimented with various techniques to bend the cedar poles. The witchott's frame must be able to withstand time and the elements as well as vistor traffic and the weight of the phragmite mats which will cover the outside of the house. Therefore, the poles must be carefully and precisely arched.

Coby and the re-construction crew tested different methods for bending the poles into perfect arches. First, they placed two poles in the foundation and attempted to bend them toward eachother, tying the tops of the saplings together.
However, this method did not create the desired arch shape for the poles, making the arches too narrow and pointed for the dome-like frame.

Ruling out the first method, Coby and the team went back to the drawing board. They then decided to arch the poles before erecting them by bending them in a nesting jig.
The team worked together to wedge the poles between a series of posts arranged to mold the saplings into rounded arches.
Each arch consists of two poles meeting at the top.
 The crew carefully bends the two poles toward eachother so as not to fracture the saplings.
The ends of the poles are then tied together with twine in several places to ensure a smooth arch. They will later tether the poles together with raw-hide to secure the shape of the arches.
The arched poles are stacked on top of one another in the frame, the added pressure of the smaller poles on top further molding the larger poles on the bottom into the desired arch shape.
Once enough arches have been made, the team will remove them from the frame and begin installing them in the foundation.

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