Version 4: The Grand Reveal


Ah, Version 4… Not significantly different from Version 3, perhaps, but a major milestone. I think we decided that instead of a lower level and a basement below that, it was more efficient and cost-effective to build UP. So we split the previous “lower level” in two, putting half of its rooms in an expanded…

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A Call to Comrades

The basic shape of the Blackwood table: a ring or hollow circle

The letter that officially presented our floor plans and self-build concept to prospective housemates. (Although Jacob and I were calling the house “Blackwood”, we wanted the final choice of name to be a consensus decision, hence the request for suggestions here.) Welcome to… …well, let’s just start by saying this place needs a name. Put…

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Version 3


Look, walls have thickness! And we finally realized that building round walls is much trickier than building in straight lines, so the towers are now octagonal. What else?… This version offers a basement level in addition to the ground floor and lower level.

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Second Draft


Version 2 of the communal house is basically just a re-drawing of Version 1, except this time (and from now on) using graph paper (gridlines erased here for clarity). We’re so professional! Plus, we learned that closets actually take up space, and that real architects don’t use boxes for doors in blueprints. The other significant…

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Initial Design


While we were researching and sounding out prospective housemates, we were also tossing around blueprint ideas. Apparently I hadn’t forgotten about the large library, use of wood and stone, or even the secret passageways—they all make an appearance. Roughly a week after we first started talking, we already had a first draft of floor plans….

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Planning the Future

We did a lot more research (London is a great town for research), poring over discussions of communes, houseshares, and alternative lifestyles—not to mention architectural books, home safety and energy-efficient manuals, and self-building guides. Self-builders claimed that the care and personal attention of building your own home meant that it would be better constructed. And…

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If You Build It…


Another experience feeding into the whole “commune” concept was how Jacob and I were spending our breaks. Our inner circle of B-CC friends all returned to the DC area over breaks, and we’d hang out together most days and nights. (A lot of those late nights involved endless rubbers of bridge, which if you’re paying…

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A commune?!?


That needed some explanation, both back in 1991 and probably now. What I did NOT mean was that I wanted to be part of some radical 1960s free love back-to-Nature drug experiment zone. What I meant instead was just that I appreciated the communal aspects of college life, like sharing resources and having a built-in…

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Questions, Questions…


I shared a room in an Islington row house with another Yalie. From time to time Jacob would stay in London (which unsurprisingly was more of a happenin’ hot spot than Cambridge), and occasionally my roommate would have a friend over as well. A number of late-night confabs inevitably turned to Big Questions. To the…

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Junior Year Abroad


Junior year of college is a fascinating time of transition. The exhilarating freedom of the freshman and sophomore years has passed, but the sobering proximity to the Real World faced by seniors has not yet arrived. You have a sense of your future direction, but not your exact route. You have learned enough to be…

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