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A collection of random thoughts, kudos and useful resources for home and business owners looking to do architectural work -additions, renovations or new construction- to their home or small business.

Friday
Apr082016

manifesto

Monday
Feb222016

Building for Life- book review

corinthian column symbolic of tree, projecting vertical strength and floral embellishment: truth, utility and beauty

Building for Life: Designing and Understanding the Human-Nature Connection

by Steven Kellert

I tell people my greatest interest in architecture is when I can merge the inside and outside into a single flowing design. Building for Life does not go into length on this particular concept but supports it in general as a part of the love of nature continuum. He refers to this as Biophilia, a term coined by scientist E O Wilson that translates to “love of life.” The idea is that man is inherently attracted to nature, and is at a loss when nature is missing from his environment. This book explores ways of bringing nature back into our work places and personal surroundings. It provides scientific studies as proof of the need, and offers solutions that begin to remedy the problem by incorporating nature into architecture both directly and symbolically.

Kellert believes that it is especially important to expose children to nature, in whatever ways possible. Empathy and knowledge are really our best defense against environmental waste and destruction. I grew up spending a lot of time in the woods (my Dad was a forest ranger when he wasn’t teaching science), so his theory helped put my passion for nature into perspective. In nature we connect, we understand that we are not separate but part of a larger world. 

He also points out that if we don’t build places we love—that are beautiful, light filled, well built and unique in character—we will never put in the extra energy needed to preserve them longterm. And tearing down a building that is only a couple decades old is the worst affront to the conservation ideals of sustainability I can imagine. I’ll be watching to see how the ‘biophilia’ movement grows and transforms, and hopefully adding to it in some small way.

as a kid I did a lot of hiking with family, here on the Skyline trail in Oregon

 

Tuesday
Jan052016

Thursday
Oct152015

outdoor rooms merging inside and out

hedge walls and stone and grass floors defining an outdoor room

Modern Dwelling

 

Modern Dwelling

Merging Inside and Out

The natural home — a home intimately connected to and respectful of the earth itself — creates an environment that raises everyday experiences from monotonous to moving, and imprints lasting memories that will impact our lives and the lives of those around us. The ways of merging home and land are abundant. Elements can be incorporated into the modern home to bring it closer to the earth.

Outdoor Rooms

Outdoor rooms offer an easy and economical way to add extra living space to a house without building additional square footage. Porches, decks, walled gardens, hedge enclosed terraces, screened porches and pergolas expand the indoor living space — even if only visually when the weather outside is too hot or cold to physically inhabit them — and directly connect or merge the indoors with the outdoors.

Sunlight

Alternately, daylight presents an expressive medium for drawing the natural world inside, creating mood and character using sunlight. As light enters the house it can be manipulated and shaped; as light passes through openings of different sizes and shapes it creates patterns and forms on adjacent surfaces.

Strong bands of shadow from an overhead trellis, for example, will stripe the floor and wall, accentuating the light source and the surfaces. Light can be refracted into different colors through prismatic cut glass, or light passing from a brightly colored room will take on a hue, glowing colorfully into an adjacent space.

In summer, protective covered porches buffer strong glare or heat from the sun from entering cool interior rooms. A deciduous vine-covered pergola filters summer sunlight, tinting the space with a cool greenish hue. While in the cold winter months, leaves drop off the vines, opening up the house to the bright yellow light and the warm rays of sun.

A light-colored terrace can bounce sunlight into a room from unexpected angles; the light from a reflecting pool outside can dance color across a white plaster ceiling. Translucent skylights or clerestory windows can disperse strong incoming light to a diffuse subtle glow.

Outlook

In the winter months, we can enjoy nature or our garden handiwork from inside. Patterned parterres, stone walls, leafless trees, twiggy trellises, wisps of tall grasses and stalks of seed heads in silhouette against snow or glistening with frost create a painted vista that can be framed by a bank of windows or French door.

The first signs of life viewed from the kitchen window, in a late winter garden activates daydreams of spring and summer. Anticipation for the gardener grows as the plant and seed catalogues roll in, and the snowdrops and crocuses begin to push aside the bleak, wintry soil.

Transition Zones

Transition zones between inside and outside are central to any home — front and side porches, fenced yards, gates and courtyards — but they may also act as a double-edged sword. Transitional spaces are commonly tasked with simultaneously creating a sense of community and of security.

To establish a sense of community, transitional areas demand openness and connection to the world beyond. However, transition zones also ensure a sense of personal security; to achieve this requires some amount of closure and layers of actual or implied fortification. Gates, fences, porches and courtyards provide layers of protection between any possible intruders and us — real or imagined.

At the same time we want our yards and outdoor rooms to convey sanctuary — buffering us from the threats and pressures of the outside world — we want them to be amiable and welcoming to our neighbors and guests.

Balance is best achieved when physical security measures are masked as architectural features designed to enhance the character of the space, and that project a distinguished presence onto the street.

Daily Activity

In the end, it is the activities we enjoy — the summer parties on the deck and lawn, dinners with friends in the screened porch, a hot cup of coffee and Sunday paper enjoyed on a terrace bench, Frisbee with the kids and dog on the newly-mown lawn, or napping in a hammock in a quiet corner of the garden — that let us experience at home that mythical place called Paradise. These are the true everyday benefits of reestablishing a strong connection between our homes and Mother Nature.

Friday
Oct092015

garden tip: wellesley hardiness zone

as winter approaches it is good to know the hardiness zone relative to your plants survival this winter…

wellesley hardiness zone is 6, but the zones are further broken down into a and b zone, and the town straddles 6a and 6b, meaning that the winter lows can range between -10 and 0 degrees

last winter was an anomaly, with temperatures dropping as low as -25, and it did in fact wipe out a few of my plants— most depressing was the loss of my lilac that came from my grandmother’s house in Burns, Oregon, but the majority survived thanks to the blanket of snow insulating the ground

to check your own hardiness zone go to

plant hardiness zone map at http://planthardiness.ars.usda.gov/PHZMWeb/