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snow and architecture | 12/02/09

colorado snow 03 snow and architecture  |  12/02/09

Prior to founding molo, Stephanie and Todd worked as Forsythe + MacAllen Design Associates. In addition to designing products that molo now produces, together they designed and built several houses and smaller structures from 1995 to 2002. It was the knowledge they gained from this work combined with their material studies and experiements that led them to form molo in 2003.

Several years ago Stephanie and I designed, and ourselves built, a small house in a remote and mountainous area of Colorado while living on site. The winter was particularly challenging as it was extremely cold and we had only a small generator for powering tools, a ground well for water, and any heat we had came from a wood stove. At one point we kept the wood glue in bed with us at night so it wouldn’t freeze.

colorado snow 02 snow and architecture  |  12/02/09

The area was beautiful and it was especially gratifying to take a few photographs of the project near its completion after a heavy snowfall. The snow emphasized the materiality of the wood and the vertical nature of the little house’s tower-like form providing a sense of orientation, like a plumbline, in the rolling landscape of the foothills.

colorado snow 01 snow and architecture  |  12/02/09

nebuta snow 02 2 snow and architecture  |  12/02/09

Snow has the amazing effect of creating an abstract ground surface. When it first falls it covers everything in a layer of soft white. Not only is it visually abstract but it also servers to dampen acoustics. In a large city the effect is especially noticeable.

nebuta snow 01 snow and architecture  |  12/02/09

A building in the snow can have poetry similar to early wood and paper architectural models or a drawing on a clean white sheet of paper.

nebuta snow 03 snow and architecture  |  12/02/09

Last year Stephanie and I photographed Aomori’s Nebuta House at the time of its opening, in a blizzard of white.

nebuta snow 04 snow and architecture  |  12/02/09

We worked on this project over a ten year period. In the last years of design we gave the building its identity by designing a surrounding screen of twisted red steel ribbons. From that time we could imagine the potential beauty of the red building in a soft field of white.