Since the first Cocoon build, I’ve come to realize that circles are an engineer’s predicament.
At six feet in diameter, these are the smallest circles in the Cocoon’s structure.
One of the interesting things about making an object, especially one as large as the Cocoon, is the process of imagining the materials and then researching, finding and using them. Materials don’t always do what you want them to do particularly if you are using them in opposition to the way they grow in nature. For example, in Cragsmoor the circles were small, straight trees that we forced into a circle very much against their will.
Above are ropes we used to force the saplings into a circle form.
However, I am attuned to these types of predicaments because I come from a family of engineers: my maternal grandfather invented the carpet-weaving machine that replaced the wooden bobbin, and my father designed wire rope machines for Bethlehem Steel. This wire rope or steel cable is used in suspension bridges like the George Washington and Brooklyn Bridges.
Stacks of circles 6, 8 and 10 feet in diameter, ready for building.
I can see my father simultaneously smiling and gritting his teeth at the suggestion of something so contrary to the labyrinths of his engineering brain as using a circle for structure. A half-circle driven into the ground like a Lenape Longhouse is one thing but an entire circle left on its own to squirm its way into an oval or a flattened shape is insanity. In fact he would have enthusiastically shouted, “That’s nuts!”
And yet, my father would have acknowledged the beauty of the circle.