Cement block. There's a lot of it decorating Hawaii.
“I've never seen so much cement block in my life,” I said, looking at the barren red dirt of a former pineapple field, held in check by several tiered walls of untreated, unpainted, unpretty cinderblock, the setting of our “fixer-upper” house on Maui fourteen years ago.
Now if you think about it, this propensity for cement block (also called hollow brick sometimes, or breeze brick in the UK) makes a lot of sense. We have a sand quarry on Maui, and make cement here in such amounts we actually send it elsewhere. Hawaii is one of the most expensive states to construct in because EVERYTHING must be flown or shipped in; here was a (relatively) cheap, plentiful building material made locally. It's also nice because it's cool in summer, warm in winter (not that that's a problem) and the area where I live is hilly, and it makes an ideal terracing material.
*yawn* I know I lost you, I almost fell asleep myself. Sorry!
Anyway, I've lived in this “local color” neighborhood fourteen years and still haven't got over the sheer balls-out ugliness of it. In the mainland they use a lot of cement block, but they cover it with plaster and call it “Mediterranean” or “Spanish” like this:
So that's the part I haven't got used to. I've tried to pretty it up at my house, and here are some of my strategies:
We painted it with “stone paint” and grew greenery. Lots of greenery. Nalu, above, looks askance at this project.
I painted it, and keep a cat in front at all times as a visual distraction. Also more greenery.
But my neighborhood…they have just succumbed. Lock, stock, and block.
Yeah. Why? I don't know. So the cans don't blow over? It's windy here.
Note the decorative cement block at the top. I want me some of that!
So there you go. We've got a lot of sand here, and we're turning it into our town. I just wish there was some way to pretty it up a little more.
What are the building materials like in your part of the world?
P.S. I just had to give you a couple more mailboxes:
Aren't you wondering by now, what I'm coming up with next? And don't forget to answer about local building materials in your area.