I am a designer and artist based in Santa Barbara, California. I was raised in Hawaii, New Mexico, Topanga, California, and rural Uruguay. My building designs – which draw on my master’s degree in architecture from the University of Oregon and my background in ecology – have been featured in various publications, most recently Sunset Magazine. I like to think of my design work as equal parts innovation, earthiness, and simplicity. Below is a summary of the way I might approach the creation of a building.
Begin with a thorough understanding of place: learn local ecology (trees, plants, birds, soil type, weather, et cetera), social networks, and the use patterns of the site. Look for connections between existing buildings and strive to strengthen them. Don’t forget to design to the street.
Understand local weather conditions and seasonal variation. Create facades that respond well to the elements. Orient buildings to take advantage of daylighting, predominant breezes, solar heating, and positive outdoor space.
Make beautiful buildings that inspire the heart and mind. Remember that careful design makes for well-made buildings. Remember that design is fun. Maintain lightness of spirit throughout the process. Follow the brush. Draw with abandon. Find solutions not problems and elegant solutions at that.
Careful details yield tight buildings. Express how a building is constructed honestly.
Integrate sustainability at the very beginning of the design process and continue designing with sustainability in mind until the building is completed. Building form, orientation, and location should all work together to create a building that’s coordinated with its environment and takes advantage of natural lighting, heating, and cooling. Building materials should be evaluated in terms of life-cycle costs, recyclability, embodied energy, and impacts on health.
Understand local site ecology before the design process begins. Make sure the indigenous habitat and wildlife inform the building’s morphology. Remember the landscape ecology principles of wildlife corridors, habitat cores, niche biodiversity, and rainwater management to understand better the local needs.
Remember that design is the creation of space, and that spaces should be designed to a human scale and with earth in mind.