Thursday, October 14, 2010

an architect designed (and built) deer fence

Durham architect Ellen Cassilly and her husband Frank Konhaus live in a breath stealing home that they co-designed for a perched site near Duke Forest. The project (which includes an artist's residence and gallery) has its own blog. Last summer their Cassillhaus made the New York Times.

I visited in August of last year and let Ellen show me around the property. Ellen loves to garden but when you live anywhere near the forested border of Orange and Durham counties, you have to deal with hordes of deer....or maybe herds?  I think hordes sounds more terrible.  So, Ellen was forced to do what many rural gardeners a deer fence.

Deer fencing is not usually thought of as beautiful to look at- rustic at best, ugly at worst.  But being the design minded couple that they are, they created a solution for how their deer fence abuts the driveway. Last Sunday I was invited back to check out the finished product.

Ellen and Frank  dreamed up and assembled a very cool group of corten steel panels. That reminds me, I need to ask Ellen to teach me how to weld. 

Two cattle grates were installed in the driveway. Apparently deer are not such great long jumpers when it comes to horizontal movement. Custom hinges (which were hired out to a metalsmith) allow one of the panels to be opened for visitors who do not want to brave walking over the cattle grates. And even though they understandably selected a more inexpensive fencing system for the property's perimeter, it is mostly invisible unless you are out tramping in the woods.

So how is it working?  I noticed Ellen had put a lot more plants in the ground since my last visit, so it must be working just fine.

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