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 1979-82

Early Cabin (1)

These are a few preliminary attempts to collage diverse elements of the program. The left show elements for creating a court at ground level. Left and center below develop a tripartite north facade, a version of which was later built and includes a vertical axis wind turbine mounted above the chimneys. Below, a long spanning roof over a deck, larger roofs over the main space, and the top of the solar reflectors collect water.

The model below explores the grotto idea from one of the earlier sketches and the water-collecting roof as a giant flattened funnel. The north wall is windowless to the heated spaces, paneled with stuccoed foam and culminates in a chimney. The grotto has cables that extend into the landscape to support a translucent fabric tent in winter.

The above model collages the pieces of the program into a denser cluster. The roller coaster greenhouse extends from the base of the water tower, the upper portion of which is glazed. Reflectors add additional light on this glazing. The art studio cants outward, rising from a tool shed base to support a large deck on its roof.

This non-detailed, 8th inch scale model reworks the elements of the above scheme. The art studio becomes an octagon. The vertical axis wind turbine is still over the chimneys, and the reflectors and protective roof extensions become an opening flower, the petals of which collect water for the tanks. the struts and cables that make this all work become an important part of the composition. The more detailed model below shows further development:  
3 inspirations
The backbones of the scheme are 4 vertical elements: the water tower, the deck support/wind support tower, the stone chimney tower, and an aedicula element sized in plan to the scale of a large bed. New here is a passive night-sky-radiation refrigerator bulging from the northeast side of the water tower. The humans in the model are wearing space suits, suggesting that by the time something like this would be built, the toxicity of the environment might require them. Full documentation of this project can be see in GA Houses 11, New Waves in American Architecture.