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 Building began with stage sets, then morphed into little stages on which to live life creatively. A tipi. A table. A school-bus home. Eventually, a house.

In Portland, I studied permaculture and natural building, and in the spring of 2008 left the city for the mountains of southern Oregon. I dug a root walled hollow in the red clay soil, and then turned that dirt into a dwelling. I taught earthen building in exchange for the help of friends and volunteers, a joyful collaboration of many muddy hands. The finished house was named the Nest. With its contrast between planes and curves, gorgeous raw materials, and spiraling interior, It resembles an exquisite creature’s home—snail shell, bee hive—much more than a modern human building. Many visitors expressed the feeling the Nest gave them, of walking through the front door and into an embrace.

Building the Nest photo gallery.

In 2018 I began a long term project in the Mojave, restoring derelict homestead cabins, and creating sustainable, beautiful dwellings. The idea is to keep faithful to the original footprints and simple shapes, create defined outdoor space, make use of the most basic elemental materials: wood, earth, straw, stone, steel.

Winters cabin front

Winters cabin front

Winters cabin back

Winters cabin back

I remain fascinated by and dedicated to

—Vernacular. Building the house that is aesthetically at home in its place. The desert is not the seashore is not the forest.

—Materials. Making use of whole, elemental materials, and found, repurposed objects whenever possible—for ecological and aesthetic reasons.

—Occupancy / Simplicity. Designing for human activity and what is actually done in a space, prioritizing flexibility and possible additions.

—Ecology/Reality. Small spaces don’t take much energy to heat, cool or clean. Comfortable, integrated, useful outdoor spaces are a necessary aspect of a healthy building. Materials with a small ecological footprint in their creation, that are easily recycled or biodegradable at the end of their useful life, are most valued.