Rock


This building and its companions, nestled into the foot of a cliff on the south coast of Iceland between Seljalandsfoss and Skógafoss, are probably my all time favorite structures on our island. I assume they were used as livestock shelters, built as they are as extensions of the gnarled but somehow soothing rock that towers above them.

It reminds me of the home of a girlfriend of mine in Cupertino when I was ten or eleven. We lived in an Eichler home exactly like the one in this picture , and she lived in one as well, but with a different floor plan. All Eichler designs have the common conceit of allowing the outdoors into the home by use of walls of glass, plant-filled atriums, skylights and high open-beam construction. This is fairly common in modern homes today, but in the 1950's this was all extremely cutting edge. What I found so appealing about my girlfriend's home was that there was a huge tree growing up through the enclosed courtyard in the center of her home. We had pretty shrubs and plants in ours, but she had a whole tree!

I think I would like to wake up in the morning and be able to reach out and run my fingers along a wall of stone that was once a lava flow, now frozen in time, softened into smooth curves and ripples by the elements. I would feel protected by the immensity of the cliff above me, like a baby penguin secure at daddy's feet. It would be wonderful knowing I was sharing the rock with ravens and eagles and mosses and ferns, and that I was integrated into the natural landscape while still experiencing human architectural ingenuity. The best of both worlds.

Some day I will live so close to the ocean that the sounds of the waves will lull me to sleep, and a tree will grow through the center of our home, and ancient rock will comprise a wall, or a floor. Glass will flow the sun and the stars into our home and every day will be a symphony of the elements enveloping our lives.

8 comments:

Fred Miller said...

Yes. It's about power. We need to be plugged in to some kind of power. A lava flow. The tide. It reminds us how poor we truly are. My girlfriend Tessa breathes through a tracheotomy tube and uses a ventilator when she's lying down. Every moment, she teaches me of the preciousness of life.

Beautiful post, Maria.

Maria Alva Roff said...

You know, Fred, you are one very good comment writer! Thanks again for your words, and a hello to your Tessa ~.~

Vaido said...

I remember these buildings in this area, when I visited Iceland two years ago. This was really an experience to see man and nature acting together like this... Hope to see this again after 3 weeks!

Lennart said...

Maria: You may be interested to know that the Eichler homes are still standing in Cupertino. But they are being slowly replaced by gigantic bunker-like houses that would look great in Baghdad and Kabul but not here in Cupertino. If you remember where you lived I can check if your house is still there.

Lennart said...

PS, of course today you can easily check yourself using Google Maps :-)

Maria Alva Roff said...

Hi Lennart. My sister and her husband actually bought and live in the house we grew up in on Shadygrove Drive, in the Fairgrove Eichler Tract at the intersection of Bollinger and Wolfe, so yes, that neighborhood is still intact for the most part : )

Grandpa and Grandma B said...

Iceland has a lot of great glass houses too.

Jill Johnson-Ingraham said...

Maria - My husband grew up on Ferngrove Ave in Cupertino in an Eichler home. :) I really do enjoy your blog!! Hope you're doing well.