It seems like my fantasy with building and architecture started at a very young age for me, building forts and tree-houses. I was forever in my youth involved with scrounging materials, and building treehouses were pretty much my main theme in my youth. In high school, I really got into an architectural programme, I spent a great deal of my high school time drawing real wild and creative curvy buildings.
I always had a fascination with building and stuff. I found a really great builder that I was really impressed with his work, and he was looking at it. I showed him drawings that I had been doing, and he said, "You know, you had better go buy a hammer, because nobody is going to build this stuff for you. So I took his advice, I got a hammer, quit college, and I started to build. And I built my first house.
My first house, it's a very wonderful house -- I made a lot of mistakes building that house. It's just, I didn't understand solar, at that point, very well, I didn't know how to make a solar design. So that house was a steep learning curve. So I quickly learned about solar and solar design, how to build a passive solar house. Every house should be a passive solar house, there's no reason to use more energy than that. Maybe in some parts of the world, yes.
A passive solar house is the easiest thing in the world to build. You just have glazing on the south side of the house, you have insulation on the north and roof, and you have some kind of thermal mass inside, so that the heat and comfort of the glazing gets stored in the thermal mass and gives it back for the life of the house. And passive means not an active system. You don't have pumps, you don't have any of that. It's completely passive. So I prefer that system the best. I think every house should be oriented towards the sun, capturing the sun.
So after I started building, living in the forest, of course my media was the forest, natural building is always concerned with using local materials. Bioregionalism is using materials that are right locally available, if possible. To me, that was the forest, I lived in the forest, so I had lots of wood to work with.
It wasn't too long in my building where I was watching the forrest disappear quickly around me and excessive logging, living in Washington state. So I said, Well, how do we use less wood in the house? And then I found out about straw bale, and I found out about cob. And then I begin to integrate these into my structures that I built, I tried to use less and less wood. Where I still use lots of wood in my buildings, there's wood frames and wood roofs.
Like I said, once I found cob, I said, this is what I've been looking for all my life! A low-cost, inexpensive sculptable material that you can build with! Cob was everything in that regard. And the beauty and the shape and forms that we can build with cob, you can't do with any other media.
Adobe brick, you can carve, and you can also come up with similar shapes and forms, but it's not as free-form as cob is, working with, because cob, you are free-forming, you're creating the walls as you build them. And that really appealed to me, you never having to need molds. You can do light-clay, or you can do straw bale, but they have a powerful impact on the wall, once you get a media to work with, to build.
It's the love of the human form, too, and the soft subtleness of the body. When building a house, we are creating a shell for ourselves,or another body, which we operate from. So it seems natural to me that you would want that form to be soft and yielding as your personality. And I guess that's basically the attraction to creating in the way, is that it does give a more formy feeling to it. When you feel a comfort in the space you're in, a familiarity to form, whatever's comfortable to you.
Because the earth is healing us, we're not healing the earth, the earth is healing us. This rising energy, this feminine rays rising out of the ground, rising into us that makes us conscious enough to want to make these changes.
It's my love for nature, and love for the forms and shapes that nature makes that we as humans are not capable of that kind of art. We are capable, but it's extremely difficult to create the shapes and forms that nature already provides. So I just borrow from nature and use those shapes and forms, and make my job as a sculptor a whole lot easier when I let nature do all the work, and provide the shapes and forms that I'm looking for in nature, and them apply them to my architecture.
This need to simplify, and just really, what do I actually need in life. What I discovered, what I really needed was to let my soul come through me and do the work that it needs to do here on the planet.
And that's the most important lesson, that's the number one. Whatever we do, whatever path we walk, they all lean nowhere. It doesn't matter. What matters is we walk our path with our heart. We walk our path with loving caringness. It's willing to feel that interconnectedness, because we are a web of life, and we are a strand on that web of life, and each strand connects to the other strands, so to understand that we are a kinship, we are a kin, we are all part of the same whole. And whatever we do to the others, we do to ourselves. So we really have to return to the natural state.