the artistic possibilities
of designing with nature

Upcoming events

January 1, 2024 from 10:45 am

We are extending the display of Robert Shannon's retrospective untill the end of May 2024.  We invite interested partys to contact us and schedule a visit while the broad spectrum of our founder's contribututions are still on full display.  We can be reached at   For more information on the show please click this link.


Design and construct the man-made environment to be in harmony with the natural environment.

Solar Work 1970-78

Spaceships and Waterbug


Proposed as a vacation house on a large pond, this prefabricated aluminum frame structure with clip-on pods was conceived as a "Touch-down-lightly" building, It could equally be disassembled and moved elsewhere, leaving the land unscathed. Its energy features comprises greenhouses, solar water heating, photovoltaics, a waste-to-methane generator, and a horizontal axis wind turbine. There are 4 bed pods, a LDK space, and a deck overlooking the pond. The overall image is one of life support which is removed from and yet dependent on its external environment. The project won a PA Design Awards citation.

An offspring of the spaceship is son-of-spaceship. This was an attempt to use a somewhat more off-the-shelf set of construction techniques, and to consolidate the components to reduce the frame size and the exterior wall surface, and therefore heat loss. For example the end windows facing the pond could be standard sliding glass doors. However this project paid little attention to the active, more high-tech solar systems of the parent. The availability of an industrial process to make the pieces precluded construction, until a university architecture school became interested which led to a hybrid scheme.......

..for the Expo in Spokane. The students would fabricate and erect it, a school hands-on workshop. Unfortunately the funding never materialized. Every Expo needs a "House of the Future". In retrospect it seems that the future may be further away than we used to think. Americans like to live in the past, and only dream of the future. Car of the future,okay: house of the future, not okay. How do we find the gems of the past and the images of the future to make a hybrid present?

Although designed a bit later, the waterbug house, suggests a different approach- more "Barabarella" than "Buck Rogers". Somewhat techno-biomorphic, but not colonial. So it is included here:

Waterbug is an octagonal dwelling standing in the water on visually tenuous legs. It has insect-like eyes bulging out ( window seats), wings (reflectors for the solar collector), a feeding tube (water and power main from the shore), and antennae (cables and wood stove chimney). A stair leads to a rectangular shed, the roof of which is a deck that shelters a mobile floating swimming pool. Where the septic materials go is yet, to this day, a mystery.