So a bit more of the Zodiac tent story….the question was how in the world to make this thing, starting with the zome. We started by making a small model, to understand how the zome structure works, when Bill Coperthwaite was visiting us in Austria.
Bill is a story of his own, being the first person to make a yurt in the West, the father of the western yurt perhaps. He made his first trellis yurt in the 60’s in the USA then went on to develop the wooden tapered wall yurt and is now 86 years old living on his own in the wilds of Maine. (He thus has no ‘phone or email, but reminds us of a time when pen and paper was a trusted form of communication, and somehow his letters always come at auspicious times, and find their way to us, even in the most nomadic of situations. Funnily enough, in the few days I have been writing this entry, someone asked me about him, and the next day we received his annual calendar).
We made the frequency-6 model on a sunny day and saw the shadows on the structure moving towards the Flower of Life, which started a debate about where on earth, at what time of the day and year, the sun would be overhead, thus projecting the exact form. Variously in the tropics, I think.
First…how wide? We thought 16′ was a good size for the peripheral yurts, making the diameter of the central structure, centre of yurt to centre of the opposite yurt, 18.6m.
And how high? With help from Rob Bell’s Sketchup programme, and Nicolas’ zome programme (en Francais), several sessions of geometrical debate, and some unorthodox calculation methods (see picture), we came up with a height of 6 metres, giving a rib length of 15.6 metres.
OK…so the struts are helical, and we were to make them from sawn wooden planks,in 3 laminated layers, glued together with extremely sticky, fast-drying PU glue. This meant, that to enable the canvas cover to sit evenly on the frame, the planks would need to be twisted, in two directions, like diagonally on the side of a large cylinder, like a silo. (How we found the silo is another story.) It took us a while to see that the left twist and the right twist are different, ie the helixes are sided. (Try wrapping a 1cm wide strip of paper, or better thin aluminium, around a coffee jar).
Then one day the boys visit the saw mill. The Scholar, who is fluent in German speaks with the sawmill guy called Thomas, the son of Thomas and actually…. the father of a Thomas, and as it is Austrian lunchtime and the mill is closed, the boys take Bill to have his coffee ice-cream. A cafe’ is found, and whilst the sugar settles in, and Bill convinces the Scholar to have some ice-cream too, the Scholar being a scholar reads the sugar packets.
It turns out that the cafe is also a museum ?!! and that the owner’s grandfather spent some years collecting old farm tools and crafts, and the whole top floor of the building and bakery is dedicated to old farm life, from beds to cupboards to violin cases, to wine presses and more and more and more.
Bill is an old craft and tool addict, and browsing through the top floors, the boys were amazed to meet an old farm oaken beam with the Flower of Life carved into it, an affirmation that Yes there is a thread running through the weaves and patterns. Of course we knew this pattern is portrayed all through the world: at the gates of the forbidden city in China, at countless temples and holy places and now we found out also at the ice-cream parlour on the doorstep of the Austrian sawmill.
So on we went to meet Thomas I, II and, well not III, and they sawed the 15 ash logs into planks, and we loaded all 3 tonnes of these into our truck, then later into the trailer, then later out of the trailer, then later….etc etc