7.16-7.17 Corncribs in Pennsylvania

7.17.USA-5-detail-a Highlights Relevant to Sustainable Design:

Build to last from local materials.

Corncribs are used to store and dry ears of corn for animal feed. Some large-scale commercial corncribs use metal wire or mesh to hold the corn on the cob. This one is built with vertical wooden slats that are spaced with thin gaps to let the air flow through and dry out the corn.

This structure caught my eye for three reasons. First, the level of carpentry detail is impressive for such a utilitarian structure. This one is built with local materials, and it is built to last for many seasons. Second, the shape and proportion are interesting, because very few buildings of any type are wider at the top than at the bottom. This inverted trapezoid allows the farmer to load more corn on a smaller footprint. Third, the quality of light inside is impressive. I was fortunate to see it when it was empty in the off-season. The gaps in the slats let light through in vertical strips that created a unique experience. Overall, regional farm “vernacular” architecture is loaded with design innovation. The surprise of the interior experience, which was so different from the perception from the outside, made me think of other ways to create experiences that challenge preconceptions.

For comparison, here is an example of a traditional corncrib in Hungary:


7.16.USA-5-Horizontal-with-Figure with corncribs, shutters, porch, porch post detail, metal corncribs, and a bank barn

The figure outline in this image is for scale to illustrate the size of the fold-out field drawing. The descriptions of certain key elements and insights are included with the accompanying drawings in this section.

Author and illustrator: Charlie Szoradi is an architect, inventor, and the CEO of Independence LED Lighting. He writes about many other topics related to corncribs and rural architecture through his extensive travels around the world.

If you have found this posting online, it is an excerpt from Mr. Szoradi’s book Learn from Looking that served as the inspiring seed content for this drawing share resource. For additional drawings and insights on corncribs and farmhouses, we hope that you enjoy exploring You can search via general terms such as sustainability as well as narrower terms such as corncribs, farmhouse design, rural architecture, and vernacular architecture.


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