The Halprin House

Who knew that building an architect-designed house would be such a hectic undertaking? Everyone except me, evidently, given how widely I was advised against it. I’m not having regrets, but I am increasingly aware of how much easier it would have been to just buy an existing house.

If anyone’s having regrets, it’s the construction team tasked with putting together the unorthodox structure of exposed steel beams as visualised by Wilson Harper, my loopy architect. I just heard one of the crew virtually shouting down the phone at three different handyman steel suppliers. Melbourne being the design-oriented city that it is, you’d think the residential structural steel supplies need build an avant garde beach house would be readily available, but apparently the particular make of lintel needed for my arched doorway is harder to come by than you might think.

It’s not as though the whole team isn’t getting paid handsomely. I’ve gone premium on the whole shebang, partly at the behest of Mr Harper and partly because it’s just how I roll (which, admittedly, was probably instrumental in drawing me to the guy’s work in the first place). Even so, from what I understand, there’s a vibe that the design of this house is one of the more trying projects that the builders have come across lately.

I would think that, when it comes to steel fabrication services, Melbourne wouldn’t be the type of place to come up short. That being the case, I don’t understand why they wouldn’t just have the requisite steel products custom-made – there’s budget for it. At least, I think there is. I’m fairly certain it didn’t get burned through in the excavation process.

Either way, at the end of the day, it’s not like I don’t have money to burn on an experimental residential building. If I have my druthers, it will one day be known as ‘The Harper House’ and featured in international architecture quarterlies.

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Steps: A Platform Story

I might be pretty new to this game but…I’m not sure the publishers here don’t know what they’re talking about. I don’t want to seem like I’m stuck up or anything, but I’ve been writing this story about a man stuck up a ladder for seven years now, and it’s been ruthlessly edited many a time. Rewritten, you might say. This man has gone from an ordinary person stuck up a ladder to a full-fleshed out person with a mind of his own, a family, a backstory and a cat. The cat isn’t actually in the story, but this man thinks about it often, since he’s up there for several years and Mrs Klein next door only promised to look after it for a couple of days.

What I really want this story to be is an expose on the dangers of improper mobile scaffolding usage. So many folks around Melbourne setting up platforms and ladders, and they just don’t know how to do it properly. This is what happened to the guy in the story. He set up his folding platform steps, climbed to the top and realised that he’d done it totally wrong. See, he’d lied on his resume, stating that yes, of course he knew how to set up platforms! But as soon as he ascended, he knew that he couldn’t get down again. Instead of pointing blame, he was suddenly forced to face the house of lies and deceit he’d built up throughout his entire life. He elects to stay at the top of the ladder and think upon his sins, which forms the main bulk of the book: him sitting there, having flashbacks to all of is past mistakes. There’s also a section where he describes what’s going on below in vivid detail, but it’s a quiet street so there’s not too much of it. Maybe, like, a cat and some cars going past. Personally, I think it’s a postmodern critique on the nature of aluminium ladders across Australia, but that could just be me.

-Troy

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I Am a Living Instruction Manual

If it weren’t for me, nothing would get done in this place. In fact, they probably wouldn’t even get nothing done; they’d find a way to dip into the negatives and actually create work, if they did anything at all. It’s not that I go totally unappreciated- the boss often says he’d be lost without me, and people seem to respect what I do- but it’s not proportionate. I should probably be running this place officially, instead of just doing it behind the scenes.

It would help if they could actually do the job without having to call me back in the office. No, really. We got a new shipment of aluminium work platforms, and I expected that everyone would read the infographic in the email I sent them. Actually, that’s a lie: I didn’t think they’d actually read it, but I lived in hope and thought they’d work out how to set them up. It wasn’t the same as the old platforms we had, but not rocket science either. But never mind! Ten minutes into the job I get a call: “Kerry, we…uh, forgot the instruction manual. Would you happen to have a copy of it over there?”

So now I’m tech support. Thing is, I didn’t even need the manual, because I glanced once over them and setting up those platforms should be child’s play. In fact, I’d give that to my four-year-old nephew, and provided he had someone to pick up the heavy pieces, he could do it in fifteen minutes. They’re not stupid; they just don’t try, because they’ve got me here. I need to stop acting like I’m their mum, packing their lunches and organising all their activities.

I’m taking leave. Maybe I’ll come back to find everything on fire, everyone’s quit, all our clients have cancelled and precisely zero mobile scaffolding has been set up. But I can’t do this forever. They NEED to learn how to stand on their own…twelve feet.

-Kerry

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