There is also a beautiful chapter in Barry Lopez' book "Arctic Dreams", the
chapter called 'Ice And Light'. I've crammed the margins with notes <g>
but there is a thread that connects through time, and across distance, with
Einstein's discoveries about the interconvertability of matter and light
(electromagnetic radiation). But the interior of my brain gets pretty
"messy"/complex around that point so I'll leave it at that.
I'll look for Follet's book, tho', thanks!
I felt somewhat the same way, thinking how cool it would be to combine
these arches with other types of construction, but they seemed to be
against the idea. I don't know I didn't get into deep discussion with
them, one of the guys was a Sci-arch Post-Grad, and got into a rant with
me about how all architecture is crap these days. I just felt like they
were "haters", you know what I mean.
They did have classes, but they were much too much for my budget.
I did like some of their buildings though, and this stuff could look
really good wth hay bales or some sort of recycled wood products (or
regular wood for that matter).
It might just be that they're purists - and certainly not meaning that as a
perjoritive! What I mean is, they're there specifically to study,
preserve, and work with ancient/old methods. That's their thing.
I'm more of a "fusion" person myself; disparte elements can be very
beautiful together. Just as with music. I bring music in a lot, because
inside my head, music and architecture "feel" (for lack ofa better word)
very similar; they are structural, like the universe. So I'm not
necessarily a stylistic purist, because IMO, part of teh joy of learning
different things is to see what happens when they're put together with
The main issue is that it's really easy to create a monstrosity that way.
TThe essential, ah, concept I guess is the word, that I take from
traditional methods is the idea of a structure growing from the site" so to
speak. That's of course in no way a new or original thought! It's just
that a lot (not all...) of traditional/ancient structures do seem to be at
ease with their sites.
And my personal ideal would be to go to the environment I'm happiest in,
and dwell in a structure that sits easy on the site. Looks harmonious, is
as "gree" as possible, is also a "good fit" in terms of size and
Yeah, I think I do :( .
I hear ya...
To be sure. That's the thing, IMO - take the idea, the elements/essence,
and add it to your vocabulary. The larger your vocabulary, the easier it
is, metaphorically soeaking, to write poetry =:-)
That's the one thing I was taught that has really stuck with me. I want
all things to be at ease with their site. Thing is working in schools
right now, the budget is king, and putting boxes up for their use is not
below us. That's another discussion though. To me site is king as
nature is our mother. I always wondered what it would be like to live
in the new world before it became "America". Brutal I'm sure, but not
much worse than some places now I think. That's a history book I would
I wholeheartedly agree with your description of your own home. On the
part of being as green as possible, which you probably mean but I'd like
to point out, is being as self sufficient as possible.
I love the whole toolbox idea, your "vocabulary". I've been adding a
lot to the "computer" side of it lately, I need to take my tests and
just become an architect already.
I think a large part of the problem (talking about houses at least) isn't
even budget so much as square footage. Too many people see quantity rather
than quality - they'll ooh and aaahhh over a place that's humongous,
whereas I'm the type who would say, That bit of siding up there next to the
third window from the left is crooked and it looks like there is a gap,
that can let water in, what idiot built this piece of crap <LOL!!>
So I try to think of things that save space because, if/when I can have my
own place built, I want quality. Not necessarily "the most expensive",
either, because price and quality don't always go together. But most home
buyers don't seem to think that way. it's sort of like someone buying a
scarf that has the name "Guggi" silk-screened onto it, rather than the
exact same scarf, made in the exact same factory, that has no name on it.
Same item but one costs a couple bucks and the other might coast a couple
But I also think that another part of the problem is lazyness. Sometimes
"efficiency" is just a euphamism for lack of imagination and even just
plain mental laziness. I don't even think it's budget, ebcause thre are a
lot of things I've seen, and see as I travel around, that are *expensive*
and yet shallow and derivative - lazy. A few bits and shards of this style
and that, reduced to the level of Lego blocks, stuck willy-nilly here and
there. The results can be huge and quite expensive, yet still cheap, as
in, shoddy, cheesy, and essentially meaningless.
A box can be elabortely shaped, but still be nothing more than a box.
Brutal, as I see it, is a function of human interactions. Things like war
and torture are brutal.
Nature is merely indifferent. Nature gives no leeway, and cares no more
for a human then for a stink bug or a mushroom. All are equal. In that
sense, nature is the ultimate democracy. One moment, one can be trying to
hide from a grizzley bear or trying to claw one's way out of freezing water
fallen into inadvertantly - and the next moment, one can witness things
that are so bagnificently beautiful that one could just fall to one's knees
Somehting I keep wondering about is, if I was out in the woods or a desert,
and had no cultural biases, what sort fo a shelter would I build? What
'style" would spring out of that, so to speak, innocence, naivete', when
approaching the need for shelter within a given landscape - what would
evolve if one could knw methods but without stylistic bias?
And, in such a state of non-bias, would any two people come up with the
same "natural" solution?
I don't know that it's an answerable question, since one learns technique
from others in a social context, and that by definition means culture, and
therefore stylistic bias. But it';s still IMO interesting to think about
Yup. A while back I was yakking about fooling with a design for a place in
a semi-arid or desert climate that'd (1) collect rain water and direct it
into a cistern for strage, and (2) utilize a system of underground ducting
and sunlight and controllable house-vents so as to use, in the Summertime,
convection to pull warm air out of the place and cool air (earth-cooled)
in. That was based upon my expereince ni southern CA, because the air
would eb so dry that a lot fo cooling could be achieved simply via shade,
and air movement - mechanical air conditioning seems less efficinet,
because it works largely by pulling moisture out of the air.
Then I saw a new type of solar cell on, what show was it, maybe Science
Frontiers. It's a thin flexible sheet - it is a bit less efficient than
typical cells when the sun is directly overhead on a clear day, but it is
*extremely* efficient when the sun is low, or when the weather is overcast.
I worte it down but I haven't yet organized my notes for the past 2 months
(too busy with moving-related etc. tasks). But since it's all of a piece,
and flexible, it isn't damage-prone, also, it's barely visible on a roof or
So, that sort of thing, in addition to good insulation. I'm a huge fan of
insualtion! - when we lived in Vancouver, BC, our Winter heting bill was
about a third higher than it was durint the *Toronto* winter!! The
differnce? Insulation, thermopane, and blocking drafts. Not to mention
that the lack of insulation, and the drafts, were pretty miserable in terms
of comfort :p .
All of that is, as I see it, part of being "green" which, as you mention,
also means "self-sufficient", because every technique that's used to save
energy (or avoid using it) means that one is that much less vulnerable to
breakdowns in the power grid or waer main bursts and so on.
Thanks! esp since I'm making it up as I go along <L!> No seriously, as I
see it, a "tool" is anything you use to creatively interpret and
express/manifest your interaction with the environemnt, with life.
A building is IMO an interaction between the designer/architect, the land,
the environment, the client's proposed uses, and the possible uses that
people in general will make of the building.
And, in terms of combining all of those, your tools are not just physical -
they also include ideas, ideals, knowledge, experience, culture, and
basically everything that your brain has picked up. That includes styles,
the historical and cultural (and environmental) context of those styles,
and the philosophy behind/affecting styles. Also abilities.
Just about anything can be a tool - a tool is anything that one can take in
one's hand, and consciously use to effect change upon something else in
accordance with a plan, idea, thought, desired result.
A stick is not a tool - until a mind (human or non-human) forms a concept
and a plan, takes up that stick, and uses to effect change to another thing
or to the environment. A computer is not a tool until that same motive
force - the mind - conceives of using it to do something, lead to some
effecgt - be it a letter to Aunt Bess, a 3D model, a cost-benefit
spreadsheet analysis, a piece of music, or so on.
THat realization can help one become mroe comfortable with things that
might at first seem daunting - I used to do some computer instruction, and
this helped demystify computers for a number of people :) .
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