the artistic possibilities
of designing with nature

Upcoming events

September 24, 2017
Active artists from the surrounding areas are invited to a group critique and barbeque on Sept 24th at 1:00.  Open to all interested artists.  Call 802 875 2194 or email us here to rsvp.
Design and construct the man-made environment to be in harmony with the natural environment.

Solar Work 2006-2007

Santa Fe Additions

Ten years later, the house in Santa Fe, shown previously, needed additional art studio, ceramic studio, spa, and guest space. It was always intended that a studio be errected on a small promontory to the south. Initially it was to be a circular building of the same diameter as the dome, but by covenant all the buildings had to be connected, so an idea emerged to wrap an octagonal space with a ramped outer space that would serve as an art gallery. The following schemes were to resolve this program with issues of vistas and solar inputs. The double layer also allowed for a thermal in-between-zone in which temperatures could cycle more freely than the interior.

In this scheme the bottom of the ramp ends in the spa. A rock bed under the lower section of the ramp acts as storage from direct gain and the hot air from the solar collectors. The air is ducted into the interior when needed. The window/collector pattern is very systematic with maximum glazing to the south which diminishes around the circumference of the building to the north. The roof steps down with the slope of the hill and would support photovoltaics and solar DHW.

In the next scheme, the walls above the ramp cant back to express the ramp on the exterior, producing a Santa Fe image as well. The collectors are now differentiated from the view windows as large inlayed tiles. Windows that are unimportant for direct gain, are recessed and have beveled surrounds to heighten a sense of the wall's thickness and extend view angles. On the interior walls, openings are based on vista, day lighting, and in some places, privacy.

Yet another scheme reorganizes the windows into a two tier composition on each facade, above and below the ramp, but the wall above is no longer canted back above this division; instead a step back in the wall creates the layers. The step backs reoccur at the top as they do in the main house. The wall thickness can diminish as its insulation is taken over by the roof. The window system below features tile-like divisions which also become trellises on the west. Above, a cantilevered metal scrim reduces heat gain. Toward the north this system breaks down, and the openings become punched holes.

The next scheme has canted walls above the ramp, but the corners are chamfered to soften the octagon. The glazing is ordered and continuous from bottom to top where a low arch unites each facade. The north side bulges out of the octagon configuration to present a larger flat entry accessed through the deck that holds a large barbeque pit and chimney. The octagonal bulk of the building is a surprise after entering. The flat facade faces a flat facade of the house. The deck is circular which helps transition from the angle of the bridge, which extends from the roof terrace over the ceramic studio attached to the house, and accessed either by ramp from the front door or by a stair inside the greenhouse.

Breaking the spiral ramp apart, shifting the 2 pieces, and thereby creating openings in 2 places improves the flow of the circulation, and enlarges the landings at the entry and access to the deck on the second level. The form implies movement as opposed to the stationary aspect of the octagon, especially on the interior where the geometries would be less classical and more baroque. The deck on the south, however, casts too much shadow on the lower, solar-useful facade. But the glazing in this scheme somehow visually blends into the overall mass, making each element less attention-getting and more unifying.


A note on Santa Fe style: a little bit of Pueblo Indian, a little bit of Arabia via Spain, add local materials; mix together with very little ornamentation. In trying to redefine this style to include large areas of solar apertures, new materials, and reduced impact on the land, one might go back to the sources to fit the origin of the forms via use of materials relative to climate.