A process for enlivening building : how experience is enhanced by connection of healthful environmental systems to ecological patterns

Material Information

A process for enlivening building : how experience is enhanced by connection of healthful environmental systems to ecological patterns
Young, Todd Edmund
Place of Publication:
Denver, CO
University of Colorado Denver
Publication Date:
Physical Description:
108 p., [5] p. : ill. ; 29 cm.


General Note:
College of Architecture and Planning

Record Information

Source Institution:
University of Colorado Denver
Holding Location:
Auraria Library
Rights Management:
All applicable rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
Resource Identifier:
36689473 ( OCLC )

Full Text
A Process For
Enlivening Building
How experience is enhanced by connection of
healthful environmental systems to ecological patterns.
Todd Edmund Young
Bachelor of Environmental Design, University of Colorado at Boulder, 1991
Master of Architecture, University of Colorado at Denver, 1996
A thesis submitted to the
University of Colorado at Denver
in partial fulfillment
of the requirements for the degree of
Master of Architecture

This thesis for the Master of Architecture
degree by
Todd Edmund Young
has been approved
s-aH Co
Claireohepherd Lanier

to my father
for his patience, discipline, and strength
my mother
for her spiritual insight

Gracious thanks to six outstandingly influential and provocative professors
at the College of Architecture and Planning, University of Colorado.
Phillip Tabb for his wealth of knowledge, sense of
humor, support and car-pool conversations.
Claire Shepherd Lanier for her belief in my ideas and
patience in discussing, rethinking and rewriting.
Keith Loftin for brilliantly playing devils advocate.
Spenser Havlick for showing me Place.
Ernesto Arias for sharing Heart and Soul.
Douglas Darden for Teaching Design Masterfully. Many
prevalent ideas in this paper have been sparked by
his relentless lectures in the summer and fall of
1995- He would definitely question some of the
ideas presented in this thesis, especially those that
are more difficult to draw in Plan, Section, and
Elevation. (The Holy Trinity)
H G F Architects for an unsurpassed practical education.
Special thanks to two colleagues from the Graduate School of Architecture and
Planning, University of Colorado at Denver.
Leslie Barnett for her superb editing and typing speed. Most impor-
tantly for her discussions and ideas on buildings as resources.
Dean Albright for exploring these ideas through conversation
and field research.

Enlivening Building
How experience is enhanced by connection of
healthful environmental systems to ecological patterns.
This thesis is an investigation into how
the integration of environmental systems can
enliven building design and enrich the
relationship between participants and the built
environment. The foundation for this research
grew out of the idea that ecological applications
to building design have the potential to go
beyond the benefits of saved energy and
resources, and allow people to reach a higher
level of connection with the ecological system
through the built environment. It becomes
particularly relevant that using ecological
patterns as design models has the potential to
enhance individual and community experience
with the built environment.
The hypothesis is that healthful
environmental systems can be integrated to
enhance experience with building design by
forming beneficial connections to the
surrounding ecological system. Connecting to
the ecosystem can enable architecture to
become "as large as life"8 by forming beneficial
relationships between the participants and their
ecological community. This exploration strives,
through philosophical ideas and the smallest
case studies, to articulate a process for
designing buildings that are physically
connected, meaningfully associated, and
engaged in the living world. In essence, a
process of enlivening building.

In what ways can ecological systems and the patterns they create in-
teract with architecture? And what are the benefits?
We are losing a sense of the four basic ele-
ments of earth / materials, water, air, and sun /
fire, through our neutralizing environments. Our
buildings increasingly maintain the same air tem-
perature and light levels regardless of the time or
season. The reason we may be desensitized to
the elements and the ecological patterns they cre-
ate is our ability through certain highly technologi-
cal systems to disengage from their processes and
forces. We no longer need contact with sunlight,
outside air, or natural materials. We could com-
pletely enclose ourselves synthetically. Is this what
we want to work further towards in our built envi-
ronment, or do we want to engage direct experi-
ence of our buildings with the ecological surround-
If environmental systems are unrelated to
the ecological system or they are retroactively in-
troduced after the initial design process, they may
not interact with the ecological system as an inte-
gral part of the architecture. Buildings that inte-
grate ecologically responsive environmental sys-
tems in the initial stages of design connect to the
ecosystem and its processes. What are the ad-
vantages in using environmental systems that re-
spond to the four basic elements of earth, water,
air and sun/fire? How can they inform design by
guiding the creation of formal and spatial relation-
Environmental systems can be integrated
into buildings by responding to ecological patterns
and utilizing the cycles of earth, water, air, and
natural light. They respond, extend and link into
these patterns by filtering them through the sys-
tems when less concentrated levels are desired,
and amplifying them into spaces that need greater
levels of intensity. For example, human culture
has always strived to prevent water from penetrat-
ing the space. However, certain buildings have
amplified the penetration of water in order to en-
rich the relationship between human and ecologi-

cal patterns. The pantheon is a perfect example.
The open oculus creates an almost shocking
experience for people in our time. The rains com-
ing through that hole in the roof, said one Ameri-
can to his wife while I was there during a rainfall.
Once the shock subsided, they began to enjoy the
experience of the rain polished marble. Water am-
plified into a select portion of a building may
resensitize us, immerse us in, and ultimately con-
nect us to ecological water patterns of rain and
Designing in response to ecological pat-
terns may sensitize us to the forces and elements
of the ecological system. People used to build in
response to ecological patterns instinctively. Some
examples include the early American barn and
farmhouse, the Native American Hogan and the
Anasazi villages. They had to build with their sur-
rounding ecosystem in order to survive. Also, they
most likely had a fundamental understanding of
the life advantages from designing dwellings and
structures in response to ecological patterns. The
cliff dwellings of the Anasazi people are the oldest
vernacular examples in this region. These build-
ings responded to such ecological patterns by uti-
lizing natural eroded indentations in the south or
southeast faces of mesa cliffs. The buildings them-
selves took advantage of sun angles, shade, di-
rectional winds for cooling, and local stone that
appears to have grown out of the surrounding land
forms and materials. The dwellings and kivas
linked into these formational cliff patterns. De-
signing spaces and building systems that respond
to, extend, or link to ecological communities pro-
vide the opportunity for us to resensitize to the for-
mation of land, vegetation, air change, snow fall
and movement of the sun.
A buildings ventilation system that responds
to the sites air flow, the adjacent vegetation for
shading has the potential to sensitize us to the air
patterns and climate of the site. It achieves this
through forms and spaces that utilize the air move-
ment and direction through the site. The same
building could exemplify patterns of light, water or
Some may ask, why would we want to
resensitize? Like our ancestors, it may mean our
survival. We may need to regain our instincts to-
wards the patterns of our supporting ecosystem in
order to sustain its existence. However, this argu-
ment can not be the primary reason. Given the
rate of technology and information, what we will
need to sustain ourselves can not be certain. It
can be certain, however, that if we lose touch or
Spruce Tree complex of buildings in a south east
socket formation in the cliffs at Mesa Verde.

connection to the ecological elements and patterns
as a result of our buildings, we are forgetting an
important part of human memory. Connection and
interaction of shelter to the ecological systems have
been essential to our experience since the begin-
ning of humanity. We must resensitize in order to
preserve direct experience.
"Building can not be a rigid dogma, but
a living, organic, ecological project. It is
about continuity, based on memory,
common sense, and experience. 1
Buildings have the potential to become in-
tegral to the land formation, watershed, air pattern,
and light / shading of a site. Will environmental
systems that respond to ecological patterns con-
nect buildings to ecosystems by giving them a route
to link into surrounding processes? How can build-
ings become part of the ecological pattern? How
can they become an integral part of the cyclical
processes and ecological cycles?
Environmental systems that are healthful
have the ability to connect to the surrounding eco-
logical system. Healthful environmental systems
that mediate earth, air, water, and light provide di-
rect physical contact between the elements and
the building systems. Building and ecological sys-
tems participate in each others cycles. When wa-
ter is collected for use and then replenished into
percolation beds, the building participates in the
ecological cycle. According to Ken Yeang, author
of Designing with Nature, an environmental sys-
tem should be thought of as a set of physical
elements intended to reroute the flow of energy
and material into, through, and out of a building.2
The key here is reroute which indicates a cyclical
rather than linear flow. Buildings designed in this
manner lessen the need for such systems as con-
ventional air-conditioning which rarely stores cool
air for re-radiation and uses an unrenewable
Conventional systems often sever connec-
tions to ecological surroundings, while healthful
systems connect with the processes of the eco-
system. They become part of the overall network
of systems. Buildings become connected by uti-
lizing ecological lighting and shading processes,
for example. They use filtered daylight in the
spaces as well as light and shade from surround-
ing plants and rocks. Rather than separating the
building from ecological lighting sources and ef-
fects, they become part of the ecological system.
Linking to ecological processes and patterns will
ultimately connect our buildings to their specific
surrounding ecological community.

In what ways can human experience benefit by interaction with
architecture and its integrated environmental systems? What are the
physical and psychological benefits?
How can the integration of environmental
systems enrich the relationship between people
and their built environment? Enrich here means
the potential to improve the experiences people
value; to restores nutrients lost through the devel-
opment of technology and building control systems
throughout modern times. What are the benefits
to peopled physical health and psychological well-
What interactions with buildings allow
humans to tune into ecological processes? Build-
ing connections that are made to ecological pat-
terns provide experience of the processes of earth,
air, water, and sun. Will connecting to the ecologi-
cal community through environmental systems that
are healthful reveal patterns and methods of de-
signing that are beneficial to both humans and the
ecological community? How can beneficial connec-
tions be manifested?
Interaction between architecture and its in-
tegrated environmental systems may give us sen-
sations and recognitions of the contours and tex-
tures of the land, and the opportunity to see and
feel the cycles water, air and sun produce in order
to experience degrees that are desirable. This ex-
perience, as opposed to experience within a
building that is isolated, is more inclined to benefit
Experience means to participate in time and
space as a basis for gaining physical sensation,
knowledge and consciousness. Building connec-
tions to ecological communities provide knowledge
and awareness through participation and contact
with our surroundings. Carol Venolia takes this
concept further by recognizing the benefits of this
"The antidote to this state (lack of con-
nection) is awareness. Without aware-
ness we are powerless: When we
heighten our sensitivity to the worlds
within and around us, we begin the pro-
cess of self-healing and empowerment. "3

The ability for human modulation of these
systems is also crucial for determining quality of
our experience. Not only do we desire the experi-
ence of how a space is heated or cooled but we
also long for the ability to modulate these systems
on a micro level.4 Modulation is a persons ability
to actively change the degree and frequency of
the elements allowed into a space. Modulation
does not sever connection, but rather mediates
conditions in order to make connections between
the built space and surrounding ecosystem. This
gives the user direct interaction with the system
and built environment. For example, individuals
are experientially involved in regulating desired
levels of outside air that move through and out of
a space. By modulating air flow with ergonomic
window handles and shutters, this allows for minute
levels of ventilation and air change. This makes
the user a participant who can be empowered by
the ability to modulate.
Built systems stimulate our senses enhanc-
ing our physical experience. Can buildings
connection and use of the four basic elements
provide physical interaction and psychological
awareness of the sources that energize the built
Having an awareness of the source in rela-
tion to the mediating building systems may
heighten our psychological perception of the
space. Our experience depends on the meanings
and emotions we associate with a built environ-
ment and our awareness of the environmental
process. Lisa Heschong conveys this need for
psychological experience in Thermal Delight in
"the temperature of a place need not be
associated with the form of a building or
the materials used or the region where it
is located. But how unsatisfying is this
dissociation of warmth and coolness... to
enjoy being warmed or cooled we need
some awareness of the process." 5
Buildings have the potential to promote
health for both people and their places by integrally
connecting ecological patterns to human patterns
of existence. They support personal health and
well-being with daylight, passive ventilation, ma-
terial, and space. How can architects, designers,
and people administering building projects partici-
pate in building healthier places through integra-
tion of environmental systems that are more re-
sponsive to the ecological surroundings and pat-
terns of human consciousness?

How can ecological and human patterns inform a design process? How
can the deep investigation of these patterns in relation to the built
environment provide guidelines or models for design?
How can ecological and human patterns
become design patterns or guidelines? How can
they emerge out of the deep investigation of the
ecological patterns of the place in relation to the
fundamental patterns of the people? In what ways
will patterns specific to the ecological community
emerge? Will using these patterns as models for
guiding building design enable building to become
integral to the physical fabric of the place and the
interacting patterns of its people?
"The richness of the ecosystem and the
processes of life offer many models. 6
Using ecological and human patterns to in-
form design could allow the building to emerge from
the deep patterns of place. For example, water
penetrating a site, its absorption through the soil
and vegetation could become the underlying pat-
terns for the design of the building. If penetrating
water or light emerges as one of the dominating
ecological patterns, this pattern could be a driving
force for determining relationships of walls and roof
systems, guiding the development of forms and
spaces. It is an ecological pattern of the place
that is reinterpreted and utilized as a design pat-
tern. The human response to this pattern may be
to filter the penetrating elements or forces into and
through the space. This is just one example of an
ecological pattern guiding design. Others explored
throughout this paper, are circulating, breathing,
interlocking, and tempering.
The process begins by deeply investigat-
ing the ecological patterns of the place in relation
to the fundamental patterns of the people. The
pattern and relation of patterns continually informs
and reinforms the design. Using these patterns
as models for guiding building design enables
building to emerge out of its ecological commu-
nity. The building is, in a sense, born out of its

ecological surroundings in order to grow and be-
come something new, yet fundamentally related
to its origins. Using ecological patterns to guide
building design enables connections to be made
between the ecosystem and human experience.
These connections can enhance experience and
enrich quality of life as intimately tied to the built
environment, ultimately enlivening the building.
The process of discovering these patterns
is intuitive, as well as occurring through empirical
observation and deep site reconnaissance. The
intuitive informs the empirical which reinforms the
intuitive as a process for discovering prevalent
guiding patterns. They are not objective truths to
be discovered. A different combination of design-
ers and clients may find varying sets of patterns
and qualities for the same site in the same eco-
logical community. Yet, all of the patterns will have
emerged out of the same ecological community
giving them an underlining common thread or
Healthful environmental building systems
are the focus here because they respond and con-
nect to these patterns most directly. Building sys-
tems respond to these patterns by mediating earth,
water, air and sun through building orientation, ma-
terial use, and relationships of spaces. When the
building is sensitive to human experience and the
surrounding ecosystem, and the ecological com-
munity is allowed to respond to the building, it be-
comes interconnective. There are positive inputs
into the architecture from the surrounding ecosys-
tem and in turn the architecture has become part
of the ecological pattern.
Allowing appropriate patterns to inform
building design can foster a more interconnective
design process that benefits human experience
and the ecological system. The building becomes
part of the cyclical ecosystem, resilient to its
changes and cycles as well as participating in the
ecological evolution. Buildings have potential to
do this through systems that link to ecological
cycles, such as water collection and drainage. Built
environments that utilize renewable and cyclical
sources of energy are more resilient to ecological
cycles. They perpetuate rather than inhibit growth
of the ecosystem, participating in its evolution. The
building, as part of the ecological pattern, has the
potential to improve and evolve the pattern by be-
coming a resource to the ecosystem.
"If we re-create these patterns in a suffi-
ciently rich way, They can restore our
ability to perceive health and non-health
in ourselves and our places, they can
strengthen, rather than weaken, our
confidence in our immediate experiences
so that we can speak from the heart about
our own perceptions." 7 (Van DerRyn)
The ecological system has fundamental
patterns of organization. People also have funda-
mental patterns of behavior and consciousness.
When these patterns can be overlaid in relation to
and in honor of the other, they can guide built pat-
terns that most benefit human experience and the
ecosystem. It is of utmost importance to design
the built environment in response to these patterns.

Designing the built environment in response to
existing relationships of human and ecological
patterns generates potential forms and spatial re-
lationships that enrich human experience. Forms
and spaces are generated from the deep patterns
of a place. Some methods and case studies that
generate form from the elements of place are ex-
hibited in the following sections.
Ecological Patterns overlaid with Human Patterns
in Honor of each other. Ecological and Human
Patterns generate potential forms and spatial
relationships. The ecological patterns inform the
designs relationship to the land, while human pat-
terns inform the spacial and formal relationships. The
building process becomes a manifestation of human
and ecological patterns.

How can the integration and experience of these connections and de-
sign patterns foster a living architecture?
Do buildings have the ability to be as large
as life?8 How can we foster living qualities, pat-
terns and cycles in buildings? Research and lit-
erature in the field of architecture and ecology
strongly promote the idea of our built environment
acting as integral to living processes.
A building can become a series of connec-
tions and relationships that link to living ecological
communities. Can the buildings distinctive formal
and spatial relationships become part of the living
community by speaking both the dialects of hu-
man and ecological processes? How can it be-
comes an integral aspect of both to these living
processes? Buildings thought of and designed for
in response to ecological and human patterns take
on qualities similar to a highly organized system
or organism. They begin to form relationships in
which everything influences everything else within
the system because to some degree, everything
within the system, like an organism, is interacting
with adjacent processes.
Ken Yeang, author of Designing with
Nature: An Ecological Basis for Architectural
Design, states at a basic level that a living approach
to building is advantageous.
.. .like a living organism, the present
built environments life support sys-
tems require constant inputs and
make constant outputs. Viewing the
built environment in this way has
certain advantages. 9 (Yeang)
What are these advantages and how are
they realized? Like an organisms ability to adapt
with these cycles and patterns, it becomes advan-
tageous for a building to gain adaptability and re-
silience in order to respond with the changing eco-
system. Buildings that are part of the surrounding
ecological processes give direct physical contact

to the living community. It not only responds to the
ecological patterns but becomes interrelated to
them and the community. Through our buildings
we participate in the cycles and patterns of sun
movement, rainfall, topography, vegetation and
land formation. The earth mover has been the
greatest sculptor of our century. It is excavating
and reformulating substantial effects on earth and
land formation. If we deny buildings substantial
effects on the living world, we are fooling ourselves.
The building develops qualities of a self-
sustaining or organizing system. Will it gain the
ability to change, adapt and grow? Sim Van Der
Ryn in his book Ecological Design describes a pond
water community to illustrate a self-organizing sys-
There is a kind of self-design or self-
organization at work here. Each
microcosm spontaneously develops
new levels of coherence and resil-
ience that arise only from the rich
interactions of the whole system.
The flexibility of its component
species allows it to respond to chang-
ing circumstances. 10 (Van Der Ryn)
Buildings can be thought of as component
species within the system. The buildings envi-
ronmental systems can be thought of as the inner
workings or framework of the organism. Can the
integration of healthful environmental systems give
buildings living characteristics and qualities that
may aid the building in becoming a self-sustaining
How can the integration and experience of
healthful environmental systems be effective in
enlivening buildings? By designing these systems
as interactions between humans and the ecosys-
tem, buildings with more living patterns may
emerge. Buildings with these integrated systems
become acting characters as they infiltrate, circu-
late, breathe, temper, and rejuvenate. These are
all patterns that may emerge out of relations be-
tween humans and the ecological community
through the buildings systems. Can the design of
building systems, forms, materials, and spatial re-
lationships subjectify buildings as verbs or acting
organisms and less as isolated objects?
Can interactive buildings, materials and
spaces gain levels of consciousness? Do models
or design guidelines derived from human patterns
of consciousness and ecological patterns of a place
have potential to manifest building conscious-
ness? What does it mean for materials and build-
ings to gain consciousness? How would we de-
sign differently if human consciousness were not
entirely separative from consciousness of the sur-
roundings? We may become more ecologically
sensitive in our building designs if we acknowledge
materials and buildings as having consciousness.
Perhaps, we would design for the relationships
between humans, the materials and systems of the
built environment and the surrounding ecological
materials and patterns. Design would be a
response and extension of human and earth
consciousness. Through our transformation of
natural materials, they gain levels of our conscious-
ness as well as the consciousness of the

"We can enliven a spark of life in a build-
ing by honoring different patterns of
human consciousness in relation to the
consciousness of the materials" 11
Do certain buildings ultimately embody
higher beliefs of life beyond ourselves? Do some
buildings and spaces represent the heavens or
ideas of cosmic order?
Can the tangible relationships of built form
and space foster an intangible feeling of the world
beyond the surrounding ecological cycle? Can
certain places over many patterns of human expe-
rience and cycles of interaction gain what might
be best described as the soul of a building?
The soul of a place is the intangible
feeling made up of so many things that
is conveys." 12 (Day)
Many buildings resonate physical energies
and memories giving them an essence. This be-
comes a human process of seeking, discovering,
and acknowledging soul through places, buildings,
and spaces. If a building serves as a catalyst to
the process of spiritual discovery and acknowledg-
ment, does it then embody living attributes and
potentials? It consists of human involvement and
experience of certain buildings in relation to its site,
ecosystem and its symbolic meanings. Does ex-
perience of some buildings over time and space
instill soul in the materials, spaces and forms? Is
there a soul of place?
Enlivening building is a process that can not
be calculated. Buildings are complex webs with
many layers of material patterns and spatial rela-
tionships, providing infinite human experience. The
following sections propose a process of enliven-
ing building. It is necessary for this method to be
synthesized intuitively. It is not meant as a for-
mula to follow, but a process that molds differently
to every site and experience, its ability to guide
design is strengthened by its adaptability and
The Pantheon after a rain.

1 David Pearson, Earth to Spirit, (Gaia Books Limited, London, 1994) p.122.
2 Ken Yeang, Designing with Nature: An ecological basis for architectural design (McGraw Hill Inc. 1995) p.53.
3 Carol Venolia, Healing Environments (Celestial Arts, Berkeley CA, 1988.) p.25.
4 James Fitch, American Building: The Environmental Forces that Shape It (Schocken Book, New York, 1972) p.46-50.
5 Lisa Heschong, Thermal Delight in Architecture. (M.l.T., 1979) p.25
6 David Oates Earth Rising; Ecological Belief in an age of Science, (Oregon State University, Corvallis, Oregon 1989) p.160.
7 Sim Van Der Ryn, and Cowan, Ecological Design (Island Press Washington DC & Covelo CA, 1996) p.63.
8 Douglas Darden, Idea that buildings have the potential to be As Large as Life. (Studio Lecture, University of Colorado,
October 1995)
9 Ken Yeang, Designing with Nature: An ecological basis for architectural design (McGraw Hill Inc. 1995) p.53.
10 Van Der Ryn, and Stuart Cowan, p.121.
11 Anthony Lawlor, (Lecture The Sacred Dimensions In Everyday Places, University of Colorado, April 1996)
12Christopher Day, Places of the Soul. (Aquarian Press Thorsons, London, 1990) p.107.
Diagrams And Photos by TY.
Ecological and Human Pattern design by Bob Benvenuto.


Healthful Environmental Systems
How healthful environmental systems are selected.
Healthful environmental systems are inte-
gral building components that filter or amplify the
elements of earth, water, air and sun in order pro-
mote the health of people and their places. These
systems mediate by acting as components that
bring participants together with the elements en-
abling experience of their processes. Health re-
ferred to here is not only the absence of physical
disease, and mental illness, it is the promotion of
individual and community well-being. The promo-
tion of healthful systems, materials, and spaces
renew the functioning of the body and the mind;
nourishing wholeness of the human spirit and the
ecological community. They are healthful to us and
the land as of the same entity. Health is the ca-
pacity of the land for self renewal. as it is for us.1
Environmental systems contribute to our
built surroundings as a powerful agent which af-
fects how we feel. In the words of Christopher Day,
the environment can provide nourishment, sup-
port and balance for the human spirit, as it can
starve, oppress and pervert it.2 Healthful environ-
mental systems strive to support, nourish and ful-
fill human experience. Healthful environmental
systems explored in this thesis promote physiologi-
cal and psychological growth. They are systems
that speak to the soundness of the body, mind and
To be healing, a place must be harmoni-
ous, bringing change as an organic de-
velopment so that new buildings seem
not to be imposed aliens but inevitably
belong where they are. They must re-
spond to the surroundings and be re-
sponsible, seeking to minimize pollution
caused by their materials. But places -
and buildings must be more than that:
they must be nourishing to the human
being. 3 (Venolia)
Healthful environmental systems actively
provide the body with the physical elements it
needs while avoiding ones that cause illness.
These systems use materials that are non-toxic to
the lungs, the skin and physiological processes.
Beyond this, they fulfill physiological needs and
desires by actively mediating the surrounding eco-
logical elements as opposed to neutralizing them
within the space. They mediate by filtering the ele-
ments into the space or amplifying them where
desired. They allow the experience of different
levels of light, moisture, wind and textures of
material. When environmental systems neutralize
the temperature, air movement, or light of a space

through uniform regulation, they create a constant
and monotonous environment. Healthful systems
mediate these elements in order to provide tem-
peratures for continual body regulation, air move-
ment for levels needed by the lungs and skin, and
daylight for physiological stimulation and essen-
tial vitamins. Environmental systems that filter day-
light by responding to the sun for example have
specific physiological health benefits.
Ultraviolet light which is absent from
incandescent light and shielded in
fluorescent has been proven to
stimulate blood circulation, lower
blood pressure, increase protein
metabolism, lessen fatigue, stimulate
the glands, white blood cells and
make possible the production of vi-
tamin D.4
Environmental systems that are healthful
also uplift psychological moods, feelings and cre-
ate meaningful associations. These systems that
allow filtration and amplification of changing day-
light and outside air have an effect on peoples psy-
chological state. Systems that do not allow for the
experience of changing daylight hues or varying
movements of desired fresh air stagnate space.
These systems can often be repressive because
they restrain human participation. They do not al-
low for a person to open a window or to be re-
leased from a space visually, thermally, or some-
times physically. Many systems block out the ele-
ments creating an isolated experience. Forced air
systems often isolate natural airflow and tempera-
ture which rob individuals of the opportunity to ex-
perience outside air ventilation. Giving individuals
the ability to experience outside air through open-
ing windows and vents is one step towards be-
coming aware and part of the buildings ventilation
processes. Recognition of how the air is entering
the space and where it is coming from is made
available through the operation and integration of
wind responsive ventilation systems.
Healthful systems mediate the elements into
the space by providing awareness and experience
of the transformation of temperature difference,
light level, and the materials that are used. The
participants experience the sensations and the
sources of being warmed, cooled, watered, lighted,
or aired. It is not just to be warmed or cooled but
to be warmed or cooled by understanding and par-
ticipating in the changes; through processes and
The specific systems focused on in the
following sections are thermal storing, insulating,
water collecting, natural cooling and ventilating,
aperture natural lighting, and solar responsive

Enhanced Experience:
How experience is enhanced by built systems connecting to ecosystems.
Enhanced experiences are events or
participations in space that heighten and nourish
visual, tactile, acoustical stimulation and psycho-
logical perception. The presence and enjoyment
of qualities in the space can be enriched by the
filtration and amplification of the four basic ele-
ments through healthful environmental systems.
Sensory, associative memory, and symbol-
ism effect the overall aesthetic experience with the
built environment. Aesthetic experience is a
complex, organic event; it is a relation in its very
essence5 Experience is a continual relationship
between people and their environments.
Our senses need certain levels of stimula-
tion and contact with the environmental context in
order to participate with the built environment.
When they see filtered sunlight, hear sounds of
water, or feel movement of air, and texture of
material, this stimulation can enhance spatial
experience. Desirable levels of sunlight and how
it is filtered through healthful systems may enhance
reading a book, writing a letter, cooking a meal, or
engaging in a conversation.
Experiences are sequences of activity
through the environment. They provide contact
with and occupation of the space through time.
For example, a person entering through a vesti-
bule pauses, gathers thought and prepares for
arrival into the space. The vestibule takes part in
both the inside and outside environment. When
the vestibule responds to the surrounding topog-
raphy by folding into the landscape, and is oriented
in relation to the suns rotating angles, the transi-
tion from the natural to built environment is more
fully experienced.
Sequential experience through an ecologi-
cally responsive vestibule is enhanced by the use
of cross ventilation, light, and space. Experience
can enrich peoples interactions with buildings that
connect to ecological process.

Beneficial Connections:
How beneficial connections can occur through the built environment.
Connections are contextual relations estab-
lished between humans, their buildings, and the
ecological system. These relationships inevitably
form interactions that can either be beneficial to
humans at the expense of the ecological system
or sacrifice human experience in order to preserve
the ecological system. Certain building systems
can benefit both human experience and the eco-
logical system. Beneficial connections respond
and link into both human and ecological cycles.
They mutually promote both people and place.
Connection to the ecological patterns
through environmental systems allow people to
touch, see, taste, smell and hear the elements in
desirable quantities and qualities. Peoples senses
are stimulated by the use of the elements and re-
sources the ecosystem provides. In turn the
replenishable natural elements of sun, water, and
air are used to power environmental systems
often replacing the use of coal and fossil fuels. This
does not directly benefit the ecological system but
it is less harmful to it by lessening ecological
damage through a renewable and replenishable
circulation of resources. Human experience is
enhanced while the ecosystem is less affected.
Buildings that are designed in response to
ecological cycles have a greater chance of ben-
efiting the ecological system. They have the
opportunity to become part of the surrounding
ecological processes rather than isolated from
them. A symbiotic relationship occurs when both
the architecture and the surrounding ecosystem
benefit from the association. When built form is
generated from ecological patterns, beneficial con-
nections are more likely to occur between human
experience and the ecosystem. If a roof form re-
sponds to the watershed pattern by shedding water
towards the vegetation, eventually replenishing the
ground, symbiotic relationships are given the
chance to emerge. A symbiotic relationship might
occur if part of this roof collecting system takes
the form of a standing pool of water for nearby wild-
The ecological system benefits when built
systems and spaces promote the growth of the
ecological community. The built environment and
surrounding ecological community form a symbi-
otic relationship in which both promote the system
through their relations. There emerges a mutually
beneficial connection when the built systems act
as distinctive members of the ecological commu-
nity yet add to the whole system. The acting sys-
tem is greater than the sum of the individual parts.
"Symbiosis retains the vivid distinctness
of its members. It communicates an im-
portant moral point by acknowledging
that, although individuals may be part
of greater wholes, they are, simulta-
neously, separate beings. fundamen-
tal oneness in diversity." 6 (Oates)

Buildings can also act as resources to the
ecological community. Buildings have the
potential to aid in the supply energy to satisfy elec-
tric, water, and material needs. It is important to
integrate systems that capture energy from the sun,
wind, water, and earth initially rather than trying to
retrofit them later. These built environmental
systems collect and distribute solar, wind, or
geothermal energies that can benefit the ecologi-
cal community. Through technological advances
such as photovoltaics or planning sensitivities to
watershed, buildings could be thought of as
resources. They become resources by providing,
storing, and rerouting electricity, water, and other
forms of energy. Buildings are then not only tre-
mendous sinks of energy, but sources. These sys-
tems capitalize on the ecological sources poten-
tial to provide energy for the community. The idea
of buildings as resources has great potential for
future design solutions .
Buildings such as this one in Granby Colorado have the po-
tential to be resources of energy rather than sinks. Through
photovoltaic and active solar technologies, buildings could
produce electricity and heat for the surrounding buildings in
the community. Another structure could collect water while
another filtered and redirected air for the community.

Ecological Patterns:
How ecological patterns can inform design.
An ecological system is the totality of pat-
terns, interactions, and relationships between
organisms, in this case humans, and the built and
natural environment. It consists of organisms and
their environment functioning together as an orga-
nized unit that forms an open system where
organisms and environmental components are
continually entering and leaving. This process
forms an organization of patterns.
An ecological community is used to refer to
a specific grouping or network of related individu-
als or organisms with their specific environments.
Ecological patterns are repetitions, tenden-
cies or cycles of the ecological system or ecosys-
tem. Topography, geology, and the relationship of
vegetation to the land create ecological patterns.
The way the sun interacts daily, seasonally, yearly
and cyclically with a particular site forms layers to
these ecological patterns. Ecological patterns con-
tinually change with emerging relationships be-
tween human development and the environment.
Each new built system adds to the ecological fab-
ric and hence the pattern. These relationships over
time form patterns which are specific to every site
and climatic region. The interrelationships between
the natural with the built environment make up
the web of ecological patterns.

Enlivening Building:
Integration and experience of these systems fostering a living architecture.
Enlivening building is a process that can
not be calculated, but needs to be difined. Build-
ings are complex webs with many layers of mate-
rial patterns and spatial relationships, providing for
human experience.
Buildings that are alive respond and sup-
port ecological and human patterns. They are
interconnective to the ecosystem and community.
They gain a self-regulating ability through con-
sciously processing environmental and human
Healthful environmental systems are inte-
gral components of the built environment that
contain tremendous potential to enliven building
design. They will be the lens that this study looks
through in order to discover more meaningful ways
of experiencing ecological patterns and beneficial
connections. Environmental systems are the most
interactive building components between human
experience and the elements of earth, water, air
and sunlight. These systems mediate the ele-
ments, incorporate material selection, and deter-
mine spatial organizations. Many of the ways
environmental systems function makes them ideal
to look at for discovering how architecture can
become more alive.
Healthful systems are metaphorically
similar to the functioning systems of a healthy
human body. The respiratory, evaporating and
temperature regulating systems of the body are
fundamental for a hike in the mountains, just as
walls must breath, absorb, and regulate air
temperature in order to enable desirable experi-
ence. The wall becomes a tempering membrane
that absorbs the days heat, releasing it through
the night. The wall material, in a sense, gains
consciousness through its ability to temper the
inside space, by continually recognizing and
mediating changing conditions. Consciousness
embodied in nature, materials, and the elements
is an old concept that may help understand
buildings as living.
"... everything in the universe has con-
sciousness. modern science has
proved that plants have intent and can
respond to the energy of humans. How-
ever, no less conscious are the stones and
mountains and rivers. 7 (Linn)
Through the integration of these materials
and systems, buildings may develop life-like
attributes like the physical characteristics of the
human body or mind. If the stone the building is
made out of has consciousness, and the design
and method of construction becomes part of the
ecological pattern, the building must also have
consciousness. Walls become tempering living
membranes that process information based on
climatic and ecological changes. The buildings
walls and spaces interactively respond to people
and site.

1 Leopold, A Sand County Almanac, (Oxford University Press, Oxford & New York, 1949) p.221.
2 Christopher Day, Places of the Soul. (Aquarian Press Thorsons, London 1990) p.23.
3 Day, p.19.
4 Birren. Light, Color, and Environment. (Van Nostrand Reinhold Co. New York) p.35.
5 Michael H. Mitias, What Makes An Experience Aesthetic? (Wurburg: Konigshausen & Newmann, Amsterdam 1988) p.5.
6 David Oates, Earth Rising; Ecological Belief in an age of Science, (Oregon State University, Corvallis, Oregon 1989) p.100.
7 Linn, Sacred Space : Clearing and Enhancing the Energy of Your Home. (Random House, NY 1996) p.6.
Photo of Resource Office Building by TY. Building by Dixon and Carter Architects, Granby Colorado.

Places are formed by diverse characteris-
tics, climatic conditions, physical patterns of the
region and human milieu that respond, utilize and
expand upon local features. It is important to un-
derstand a place through awareness and experi-
ence before appropriate buildings and systems can
be chosen and designed. The focus then becomes
less on the individual buildings that could be any-
where and more on the relationships between the
building, the existing built environment and the
surrounding ecological system. Our buildings
should not be isolated objects, but spaces, struc-
tures, and related systems of a place. The pro-
cess must begin with knowledge, reconnaissance
and experience of the local ecological community.
". the argument implied that
the whole built environment con-
sisted not of things at all but only
of relationships between and
within other relationships.'' 1
The region primarily focused on in this study
is the Rocky Mountain Region. It is climatically
considered a semi-arid steppe and tundra zone.
This region is in many ways extreme. However, in
modern times with aqueducts carrying water hun-
dreds of miles, cities with seemingly unlimited lu-
mens of electricity, endless air conditioning, and
climatically sealed spaces, we seldom recognize
the regional climate which supports us. Without
an awareness and daily experience of where we
live, places become autonomous as a result of our
built environments.
"Without local knowledge,
places erode. "2 (Van Der Ryn)
The features and climatic conditions pre-
dominant in the Rocky Mountain semi-arid Region
include a high number of heating degree days, low
precipitation and an unprecedented number of
sunny days.
This region has a primary need for heat.
Leadville Colorado, for example, with an elevation
of 10,430 feet and a population of 2,800 (had a
population of nearly 30,000 in 1880 during the gold
and silver boom), has only 10 days per year when
the temperture does not fall below freezing.3 The
annual heating degree days, number of degrees
needed to heat an inside space to 65 degrees Fahr-
enheit over the course of a year, are between 4,500
for the lower grasslands and prairies, up to 7,000
for the higher elevations. Denver has a need for
6,280 heating degrees days per year at an eleva-
tion of one mile (5280 ft.). In this region, heating
degree days are a significant factor for choosing
materials, thicknesses of walls, and resistance
values of insulation. Elevations of habitation in this
region range between the mid three thousands up
to nine or ten thousand feet. This varies greatly
due to the extreme topography and geological

formations. This region encompasses the land be-
tween 35 degrees and 42 degrees north latitude
with 105 degrees longitude acting as its center-
line. It incorporates Colorado, Utah, Wyoming,
parts of northern New Mexico, Arizona, and south-
ern Idaho.
Without major irrigation and water manipu-
lation in this semi-arid region human existence
would be a challenge, if not impossible for extended
amounts of time. Annual rainfall and precipitation
levels are extremely low at between 7 to 20 inches
depending on elevation, latitude and longitude, and
micro-climate. Several major aquifers lie at the
base of this region including the western portion of
the Ogallala, Edwards and the San Luis Aquifer.
The major rivers are the Colorado, Rio Grand flow-
ing south, the Green, Yampa, South Platte, Big-
horn and Arkansas rivers. Dams in this region re-
tain vast amouts of some of the largest reservours
in the nation, they include the Hoover, Glen
Canyon, Blue Mesa, Pueblo and Great Plains
The diurnal to nocturnal temperature range
greatly swings between the days high and the
nights low tempertures. Temperatures can range
from 100 degrees F in the summer days and drop
to the 50s or 60s at night. The winter days can
reach up into the 60s on a southern exposure,
while dropping below freezing during the night.
This results in twelve hour periods with 50 -60 de-
grees temperture differentials. This phonomena
creates the need for materials that either temper,
insulate or heat and cool these extremes. The
other option is the use of heating and air condi-
tioning systems. Tempering basically slows down
extreme temperature changes by transmitting heat
gained during the day and distributing it through
mass material during the night. Insulation resists
extreme temperature changes through composi-
tion, density, and porosity of the material. Heating
and air conditioning systems use supplementary
sources of energy, usually produced off site, to cre-
ate a desirable indoor climate.
This region receives significant amounts of
the suns energy. Depending on elevation and
degrees latitude, this region receives an average
of over 300 days of sunshine per year. The higher
elevations have slightly less days per year as a
result of lower cloud cover and afternoon rain and
snow showers.
The topography is often dramatic due to the
mountains, lifting and shearing rock formations,
and extreme changes in elevation. The tree-line,
usually between 11,000 and 11,500 feet, adds to
this drama. Vegetation is sparse. It usually con-
sists of pines, spruce and coniferous trees in the
higher country and low prairie grasses and cactus
in the lower areas. All of these climatic factors
and each micro-climatic zone as well as cultural
and human patterns of settlement create regional
We seldom anymore allow these forces to
inform the way we build. Our built environment
should be a language that communicates its sur-
roundings. In the word of Victor Olgyay, Knowl-
edge of form leads to the interpretation of forces
that molded it.4 Our buildings rarely describe
where they are built or the forces exerted on their
sites and regional climates. It often no-longer
matters where a building is to be placed.

" In the United States, despite the great
variety of climatic conditions, building
design often reflects a heedless unifor-
mity. Housing types and building ele-
ments and designs are too often used in
diverse environments with little or no
relevance to human comfort, or even to
the performance of materials. Undoubt-
edly they do not reflect the regional char-
acter ... 5 (Olgyay)
Standardized plans for office buildings or
restaurants are endlessly repeated across the na-
tion. Our CADminded Paste mentality is all too
often ill-adaptive to context. Computers have the
ability to produce concepts and drawings at a much
faster rate, but often they are used as a tool to
make more money with less effort by repeating
details and floor plans from Calilfornia to Texas.
Computers resiliency and speed should aid us in
fine tuning buildings to places rather than forget-
ting place as part of the equation.
We have the potential to use our materials,
technologies, and methods of construction in a
manner that is sensitive to this semi-arid region.
Materials, technologies, and methods of construc-
tion can connect us to the particular micro-climates
and landscapes, promoting placeness. Designing
buildings from ecological patterns as models for
design fosters connection to place. They can be
creative responses to climatic conditions, not a
uniform mindless response, but diverse expres-
sions of the bio-diverse region.
Buildings and environmental systems that
become part of the ecological processes by catch-
ing water into standing pools or capturing energy
from the three hundred average days of sunshine
per year, become part of the patterns of the place.
This research in the form of books and periodi-
cals, built case studies, and hypothetical projects
have been specific to the characteristics and pat-
terns of this semi-arid steppe region and related
ecological systems.
The topography, vegetation, sun patterns,
spacious openness, aridness and rockiness has
been tapped into in the past by the vernacular build-
ings of its first inhabitants. It is time for our build-
ings to once again promote the places they help
compose, taking part in the unique characteristics
of this region. Through the way we build, we may
gain a greater reverence for its water and aridness,
appreciation of its rugged landscape, and honor
its extreme vastness.
Boulder Colorado,on the 40th parallel and at the foot of the
Rockies, continually strives and struggels to maintain placeness.

1 James Howard Kunster, The Geography of Nowhere: The Rise and Decline of Americas Man-Made Landscape. (Touch-
stone, New York 1993) p.250.
2 Sim Van Der Ryn, and Stuart Cowan, Ecological Design. (Island Press Washington DC & Covelo CA, 1996) p.65.
3 National Forest Ranger Alex Gumpson, San Isabel National Forest.
4 Victor Olgyay, Design With Climate : Bioclimatic Approach to Architectural Regionalism. (Princeton University Press, New
Jersey, 1963) p.84.
5 Olgyay, p.10.
Photograph of Boulder looking West from Campus, through underpass, to the Hill commercial district. Flatirons beyond.
Photo by TY.

Earth you feed us ,
Understanding soil grows roots .
You celebrate all birth,
fertile seeds bring change.

Earth is our life support system and will likely
remain our most desirable place of habitation. All
life lives close to the earths surface, a proportion-
ally minute area of our solar and cosmic system.
We may discover other means of support and re-
source through exploration and technology, but will
these places, systems or materials be as condu-
cive to human experience as earth?
"... all life lives at the meeting of cos-
mos and matter, and more than a few
miles from this meeting, nothing lives.
Humans unlike birds or earthworms, live
at exactly that meeting point, with our
feet on the earth, our waking heads in the
air. "1 (Day)
Soil, vegetation, and materials nourish our
bodies and connect us to the earths cycles. How
can structures function as interconnective layers
in this cycle rather than independent entities? Earth
changes and grows with its dependent life forms
and ecosystems, it is a fluid and living
organism. Acknowledging this and building accord-
ingly may be the essential ingredient to the quality
of our physical existence.
All materials have extremely varied patterns
of performance. The manner in which they ab-
sorb or reflect heat from the ecosystem or interact
with a persons sense of touch and sense of space
are extremely different for each material. Using a
variety of materials according to function, location,
and desired experience, creates quality space. A
majority of our buildings have unfortunately be-
come monotonous drywall body bags.2
Building materials which are cognitively rec-
ognized from the earth are tactilely experienced
and associated to the materials origin. Materials
which are more directly associated with the tex-
tural sensations of earth materials are more likely
related with the cyclical processes of the earths
system. Their is understanding and experience of
the materials transformation into the building.
Building becomes a process within the earths

"If you realize that connection with
the earth is meaningful, you might
want earth materials around you" 3
Certain materials are more integral to the
earths cycles than others. Those that are more
closely derived from it use less energy. They are
more fluidity transformed from its raw state to their
use in the life cycle of the building. Brick, which is
made out of clay through production and transfor-
mation, embodies a low amount of energy. Expe-
rience of texture and scale indicate its origin or
where it came from and what it wants to be rela-
tive to human conception and time.4 Brick used
as material and structure can become an
interconnective layer to the earth and human pro-
cesses. This is a classic timeless example. Many
refinements of material along the spectrum of tech-
nology and construction method will be explored
as to its effectiveness in becoming integral to the
human and earth cycles.

Thermal mass materials slowly absorb the
suns heat during the day keeping the interior space
cool, while distributing the heat stored through the
night into the space when it is needed. This pro-
cess is known as tempering. Stone, concrete block,
brick, and adobe materials respond to the seasons
by keeping spaces cool in the summer and warm
in the winter by retaining and distributing heat from
the sun. The integration and responsive orienta-
tions and densities of these materials create pleas-
ant indoor environments with less need for supple-
mentary heating and cooling systems. The annual
heat load for thermal mass buildings is substan-
tially lowered, reducing the need for systems such
as forced air and electric base-boards. Tempering
materials compliment solar, radiant heating, night
flushing, and passive ventilation systems .
There are a few proportional and respon-
sive rules of thumb for thermal mass systems.
These include using one unit of mass for every 3/
4 unit of solar collecting glass. This is a general
proportion of the amount of mass needed to ab-
sorb and store the heat from a solar space. Re-
sponsive orientations according to cardinal direc-
tions and site topography and vegetation will allow
for most effective tempering. West and east ex-
posed thermal mass, walls, absorb the most heat
during the day as well as respond to the airflow of
the site for ventilation. Density and thickness of
materials and walls are determined by available
materials of the site, the climate, the structure, and
the desired depth. Wall thicknesses are deter-
Process of a Mud House
mined by the technology of the structural material
and thermal mass needed to temper desired in-
door climates.
Adobe may be a low tech thermal mass
material, yet rammed earth block, or formed
rammed earth (pise) are very sophisticated build-
ing processes. The soil is ideally excavated from
the site if it is tested for sufficient cohesiveness
and strength. Be-
tween 5% and 10%
Portland cement is
added to the mix de-
pending on the
strength of the soil.
This mixture can be
used to ram earth into
blocks or preformed
molds. The mixture is
rammed into rein-
forced form work to
make a two foot thick,
durable wall or 10 x
14x4 inch blocks.
The appropriateness of each method is a factor of
labor cost compared to the form work needed for
the design. The best or least expensive method
greatly depends on the region. Both can obtain
strength in pounds per square inch close to brick
and C.M.U. with proper mixes and machinery.
A highly technical machine manufactures
blocks on site by filtering and utilizing the most

malleable soil, then pneumatically compressing
blocks that reach 500 800 psi. The best soil for
this process is around 30% clay and 50 to 70%
sand. They are ready to be layed immediately.
In a house I designed and worked on in the
Arkansas River Valley outside of Pueblo, we used
14" thick walls for structural as well as mass tem-
pering purposes.
Adobe became the most appropriate mate-
rial for the building. Its thermal mass qualities and
versatility in responding to the topography and cli-
matic patterns of the site coupled with the high cost
of wood at the time, made it the best choice. The
soil for the blocks came from the excavation of the
foundation and septic tank. This provided enough
well composed soil for sixteen thousand blocks. It
took eight days for the hydraulic machine to pro-
duce the blocks for the entire house and courtyard
walls. The soil on this site had an even proportion
of clay and sand content along with dried alfalfa
and prairie grasses. This vegetation acts as a
bonding agent. It is similar to the way fauna bonds
with the earths surface, at the scale of an adobe
block. The first layers of this adobe process be-
come a transformation of the local soil.
The blocks were laid in place on the 14"
stem wall using a mud slurry, in this case a mix of
sand, lime and water. These blocks were stacked
with thin layers of a cement slurry for quick drying.
A less expensive mortar uses the same soil as the
blocks, this slurry has the same adhesive capabili-
ties but needs a couple hours drying time per layer.
Approximately every level of about 8 feet
needs a bond beam layer of man-made mud which
forms a continuous concrete support. This ties the
masonry layers together laterally. They also sup-
port the roof structure of 12 to 14 inch diameter
vigas. The bond beam is usually 8 to 10 inches
and steps with changes in elevation. These are
more recently evolved layers of the adobe process.
The finishing layers of this process consist
of a plaster sand, portland cement, water, and
fibermesh as a bonding agent. This process takes
two or three coats and is applied more cyclically

than linearly. The coats are applied with a
hawk and trowel in a circular motion of the
arm. Each stroke, radius, bullnose, and
corner is crafted. Some spaces such as
around windows require more refined
levels of craftsmanship. After the first coat,
the cycle begins again in a similar, yet not
exactly the same, order. The outermost coat
consists of the color pigment as well as
ground up straw from the adjacent fields to
take the edge off of the hardness of plaster
and add a subtle hue of the landscape.
The notion that the blocks are not
experienced behind the plaster layers is
false. The blocks' imperfections, textures
and sloping lines are still experienced
throughout the spaces. Details such as
niches, carves, openings in interior walls,
areas of exposed wall and truth windows
allow the senses to perceive the adobe.
Rammed earth adobe block also has unique
potential for versatile spatial organizations that
responds to peoples' desires and sensitivities. The
central curved wall in the Carter residence defin-
ing an intimate sitting space and serving as a curv-
ing stair up to the loft could not have been achieved
by framed construction. Adobe has the mal-
leability to form spatial relationships that
support human patterns of behavior and
aesthetic experience. The ability to curve
spaces provides children with areas to ride
their tricycles, the depth of walls provide
spaces for making love, and the tempering
qualities provide desirable temperature to the
skins touch.
| Spaces of adobe con-
I struction are not limited tech-
| nologically. Hi-Fidelity
% speaker systems are built
f into these adobe walls
throughout the house for sur-
rounding sound. Experienc-
ing the juxtaposition of these
two technologies adds to the
involvement in the spaces
and intrigue of the systems.
This rammed earth
adobe process has become
a life experience for all
involved. Its physical mani-
festations are felt in the
spaces, built into the bunkos,
and troweled into the
bullnose corners.
Thermal mass materials achieve spatial
qualities through their methods of construction.
Stone, brick masonry, concrete block, and adobe
advantageously temper desirable indoor climate.
Beyond this, masonry has the propensity for
curved, battered, and flexible walls and spaces that
may best suit the site and occupants.

Sitting Space before plaster.
Blocks are still experienced throligh
curves, thickness and battered lines.
/Coyote yyair encloses courtyard.
Southern exposure.

Embodying Detoxifying
All material and matter contain embodied
energy. Embodied energy is the quantifiable en-
ergy it takes to extract, produce, transport, and ul-
timately dispose of a material or structure.5 De-
signing with an awareness of the various levels of
embodied energy will yield more from the materi-
als and life of the building.
It is important to chose specific materials
for certain applications and methods of construc-
tion. Choices are based on getting the most ben-
efit out of the least amount of embodied energy
and ecological depletion. The most is not neces-
sarily a dollar value but is partially based on qual-
ity and partially on ecological economics. Ecologi-
cal economics deals with resources as having di-
rect worth beyond their estimated dollar value. It
is the idea of using the least amount of resource
for the greatest experiential benefit. Design be-
comes a skill in frugality. Our experience is en-
riched through a frugal use of materials that con-
tain appropriate embodied energies to the space,
time, and use of the building. The previous adobe
example contains less embodied energy from the
use of materials on the site which means almost
no distribution energy. Experience of the space
does not decline with the use of materials that have
less embodied energy, as in this cases, it can en-
hance spatial perception. The curve of experience
to embodied energy is often an indirect relation-
ship, increasing with the use of materials that have
lower embodied energies. This may partially re-
sult from the recognizably of the materials sources.
Energy in Transformation
Sim Van Der Ryn has compiled the follow-
ing table to gain a sense of the amounts of em-
bodied energy materials contain.6 Wood has the
Material Embodied Energy
Wood 639 Kilowatt-hours/ton
Brick (4 x Wood)
Concrete (5 x Wd)
Plastic (6 x Wd)
Glass (14xWd)
Steel (24 x Wd)
Aluminum (126x Wd)
least amount of embodied energy, especially if it is
in a rough sawn timber, because it is closer to its
original state than manufactured lumber. Embod-
ied energy is also lower when its source is within
proximity of use. Lower embodied energy is one
major advantage for using local materials. Alumi-
num contains the highest and is the reason it is so
valuable, financially and ecologically, and is readily
Two images may paint a picture of diametri-
cally polar uses of embodied energy. A heavy tim-
ber and stone constructed building adjacent to a
forest with crafted wood cabinets exposing grain
and texture displays the hue, structure, and mate-
rial of the place. At Lindisfarne Center in Crestone,
Colorado the pine timber were recovered from trees
killed by bark beetles. Stone was used from local
creek beds to form battered walls that frame
the south glazing. The embodied energy for this
building is extremely low. It is a factor of selecting
which trees to utilize, the degree to which they are

crafted or milled, and the labor of the Lindisfarne Center
construction. There is little transpor-
tation or manufacturing energy put
into this building.
The other extreme would be a
steel framed, glass clad apartment
house with aluminum cabinets and
copper doors and railings. If in a ur-
ban context, these materials and
methods of construction may reflect the place.
However, the embodied energy consists of highly
complicated processes with materials from vast dis-
tances. This example is not meant as a value judg-
ment, it merely says that the apart-
ment house must last many genera-
tions or be reused in order to fully
utilize this assemblage of materials.
It is difficult to predict which scenario
will last or most fully utilize the em- ^
bodied energy of the material, but
an awareness of these factors
should inform applicable design decisions.
Another critical factor influencing material
selection is toxicity. Materials have a great vari-
ance of toxic or detoxifying characteristics. They
have varying levels of reactions to the skin, respi-
ratory system and other bodily functions. Porous
materials such as adobe, straw, or aerated con-
crete block can detoxify other materials such as
paints, stains or glues used in the space. A bal-
ance of detoxifying materials to those unavoidable
toxins in materials that we desire for other aspects
of our buildings occurs as part of the design.
Common materials that are toxic to many individu-
als should be treated appropriately.
Crestone Particle and fiberboard emit formal-
dehyde from their glues and bonding
ingredients. These materials over long
periods of time can be highly irritat-
ing, many people have had to aban-
don their homes because of formal-
dehyde levels.7 Other materials that
emit this harmful gas include carpet
, glues, 2x4 extended grid ceilings
(e.g.c.s), and rigid foam insulation.
Expanded rigid foam insulation emits less
toxins than extruded polystyrene insulation. Ex-
truded polystyrene insulation emits CFCs, ex-
panded polystyrene does not. The most
harm can occur after the foam is cut ,
but out gassing occurs throughout the
first several years after construction,
especially with extruded foam. It is im-
portant to specify expanded foam, if
cost effective. The same rule applies
to batt insulation. It is commonly manu-
factured out of fiber glass mesh which is highly
irritating to the eyes and skin. Batt insulation has
extremely high resistance (R) values at 15-30, but
must be encased in detoxifying layers. When batt
is used within physical detection, cotton batt is an
effective alternative. People installing it will also
have much less risk of physical ailments.
Concrete, terrazzo, stone or adobe can act
as non-toxic materials if they are tested and found
to be free of radon. Concrete provides the most
inert floor material.8 Concrete or stone prevents
emission from rigid foam insulation, particle boards
and other toxic materials used under the slab or
within the wall and ceiling layers.

Resisting Protecting
Insulation materials that resist extreme tem-
peratures and air exchange in buildings are im-
perative for climates with extreme temperature dif-
ferentiation. They play a primary role in resisting
the occupant from extreme cold or heat, noise or
toxicity from the outside. Insulation varies from
straw and cotton
batt to polystyrene.
They can take many
integral building
forms. They can act
as materials which
are part of the struc-
ture or as layers in
the enclosing system.
Appropriate selection of insulation materi-
als is primary in achieving high energy efficiencies
in buildings. Appropriate insulation can be selected
by responding to the adjacent ecosystem. It should
respond to both orientation of the site and function
of the space. Cardinal orientations and land for-
mations adjacent to exposed surfaces help deter-
mine which insulations to select and the amounts
for each surface. North, south, east, and west
surfaces relation to the topography require differ-
ent degrees of porosity and denseness. Northern
exposed surfaces generally require greater dense-
ness and resistance, yet if it is on a south facing
slope, more insulation is need to the east and west.
Strawbale is a tradition insulative method
of construction. Recent techniques have reintro-
duced straw bales for its high insulation qualities.
Insulation Systems
Strawbale homes
are built from $4 to
$72 per square
foot.9 Most suc-
cessful techniques
use hybrid condi-
tions. This entails
using heavy timber
or masonry con-
struction with most
of the bales to the
north were more in-
sulation is needed.
An example in
Crestone Colorado
uses viga and heavy
timber construction with strawbale infill. The bales
infill the north, east, and west walls, leaving the
south open for solar gain. This example structure
is two levels which advisably uses a hybrid condi-
tion of timber as primary and straw as secondary
Hybrid structure framed with vigas
Strawbale infill provides R-60 insulation and secondafy
stmature, for lateral wind loads and_sheacin§'fdf?es."

structure. The foundation consists of concrete and
rebar poured into used tires. This particular ex-
ample is at a stage which exhibits the methods
and potential directions for strawbale.
Strawbale construction exhibits several re-
sponsive ecological patterns. Strawbales, as in
this San Luis Valley example is almost always built
from locally grown hey and alfalfa. The embodied
energy is extremely low and the straw highly
replenishable. The bales' depth is substantially
experienced inside. The extreme thickness gives
inhabitants new sensations of what it means to be
enclosed. These 20" walls create a completely
different experience than 2x4 nominal walls with
sheathing you can put your foot through to the
outside. This example in Crestone also exposed
the viga hybrid structure on the inside providing
full awareness of what supports the space.
An insulative building material on the other
end of the technology spectrum is Aerated Con-
crete Block. The aerated block is made with sand,
cement, lime, water, and an aluminum paste
expanding agent that forms millions of tiny air pock-
ets.9 This product is manufactured by Hebei South-
east in Atlanta Georgia. It is one several materials
that have insulation and thermal mass value while
also acting as the structure. Another example is
Innergrid which uses an expanded polyurethane
fill is manufactured in California by Rasta corpora-
tion. These materials are technologies striving for
a marriage between thermal resistance and struc-
tural mass.
Insulation materials resist rapid changes of
the elements, while providing peoples need for
protection and increasing efficiency in buildings
over their life cycles. Insulation values and em-
bodied energy are fundamental considerations for
choosing the most effective composition of
- i T-ioBf- HhBu fiir-t E
An application of this block system.

Embracing Cyclical
Heuristic Uses of Material

Frank Lloyd Wrights
buildings master materials, act-
ing as models from which to
learn. His use of regional
stone, brick, earth hues, and
wood in the creation of space
and sensory experience is un-
surpassed. He consistently
used patterns embracing the
ground through these local ma-
terials, structures, and formal
relationships. His buildings first
come to mind when architec-
ture is thought of as embrac-
ing the ground. His studios at
Taliesin West outside of Phoe-
nix Arizona embrace the hill-
side by forming the same slope
and wrapping the structure around the building in
order to grasp the ground. He uses local stone at
Taliesin West which through its solidity and prox-
imity of the quarries form an embracing relation-
ship with the land. How to embrace the earth rather
than building upon it or separate from it is exem-
plified by his philosophy and patterns of building.
"No building should ever be on any hill
or on anything. It should be of the hill,
belonging to it, so hill and house could
live together." (Frank Lloyd Wright)
Outside of Phoenix Arizona Frank Lloyd Wright
His use of material for structure, definition,
and enclosure of space is grounding. He used
wood, stone, brick, or block with the hues of local
rocks and soils to tie the building back into the land-
scape. These materials where the structure, not
only veneers over the structure. He described his
use of material as structure that was like clasped
hands rather than one lying on the end of the other
as in post and beam construction. Structures in
which the material is part of the spatial experience
are physically and psychologically grounding. They
are more grounded than a hidden structure hold-
ing up floating materials because their connection
to the earth is experienced.
Taliesin West

Frank Lloyd Wright brilliantly designed with
the patterns of nature. He believed that the nature
of materials was the determinate of form.11 He
created heuristic models for embracing structure
and material to the earth, grounding human devel-
opment as part of its cycle.
Another great master of material in this
region was Bruce Goff. He used and reused ma-
terials in innovative assemblies. He would often
use local stone, bricks and wood, yet he would then
utilize found materials such as old pie tins, ash
trays, and oil drums to reflect light and enclose
space. He was one of the first modern day archi-
tects to have the foresight to reuse materials in
cyclical ways. This was in the early 1900s before
recycling was a prevalent concept.
A great example is the Dace residence in
the pan handle of Oklahoma. He uses old oil drums
Beaver, Oklahoma
for structural hubs and spatial enclosure. The high
levels of embodied energy in steel make it ideal
for reuse. Although embodied energy may not have
been foremost in Goffs mind, by their durability and
longevity there must have been some sense of the
energy gone into producing these massive steel
drums. Goff ties these drums into a crafted steel
truss system. He exposes the spaces in-between
the trusses and the sloping top portion of the drums
as clerestory lighting.
Whatever Bruce Goff's reasons may have
been for reusing these materials, they are effec-
tive models for integrating recycled and found
materials into buildings and landscapes. His
design pattern of using and reusing materials that
were not necessarily produced for building pur-
poses enhanced the built environment for people
experiencing these spaces.
Bruce Goff
Realization is better than Solution. .
Realization connotes more
specifically our awareness of this
particular 'happening' as a
continuously growing thing than
solution which is apt to indicate the
final end of such a process. .
The reality' of the building is more
a continuous process, continuing in
space and time."n (Goff)

Healing Regenerating
Healthful Material and Space
Relationships between building materials,
spaces, and the natural surroundings can create
healing environments. Healing buildings and land-
scapes connect us to the ecological processes of
life, enabling a fuller understanding of the relation-
ship between us and our surroundings. Healing
environments specifically compose materials and
spaces to promote regeneration.
Healing is transformation at
the inner most level, whether it be
on the individual or global scale.
Healing environments allow people
to transform their feelings and inter-
actions through built environments
that regenerate and connect to the
ecological community. It begins at
the origins of materials, buildings,
and individual decisions to initiate
change in material usage, and meth-
ods of constructing our built environ-
Specific compositions of ma-
terials and relationships of spaces
create healing environments. They
can be healing to individuals, com-
munities and the earth. Some build-
ings or spaces within a home or of-
fice are specially designed for heal-
ing while others develop healing qualities overtime.
These environments regenerate individuals
through buildings which are more in tune with
ecological patterns.
"The best healing environments reflect an
awareness of the multi-faceted humanity of
individuals, experience oneself in a va-
riety of contexts, to explore connections with
other people and the greater pulse of life, and
to gain a feeling of capability in relation to
one's health
13 (Venolia)
e boulder as wall.
Healing space at Strawberry Hot Springs.
A humble structure at Strawberry Hot
Springs in the outlying hills of Steamboat Springs,
Colorado exemplifies healing qualities. It was de-
signed by an anonymous artist who credits the

design to the landscape. The boulders' progress-
ing down the hill on Strawberry Creeks northern
ledge create a setting that is tucked in-between
the rocks and the creek. The lowest boulder of
this structure serves as the grounding wall which
anchors it to the earth. The vaulted hexagonal
space is abundant with natural daylighting and re-
flections of the creek,
snow and adjacent
rocks. It contains a
diverse assembly of
materials from river rock
and boulder structure to
its viga canopied roof,
wood finishes and
inlayed glazing.
The space is
used for massage,
group discussions,
meditation and move-
ment stretching exer-
cises such as Yoga and
Tai Chi. It provides
space for individuals to
connect with nature and others in the community.
Through its use of local materials, light, and
engagement with the landscape it connects
individuals with the natural surroundings.
Its centrally focused interior, built-in stone
benches, at the perimeter allow people focus to
transform their inner levels and connect to others
in the community. It is a unique place that pro-
vides connection through the textures of adjacent
rocks, the sounds of the flowing stream, the plants,
wildlife and the characters of this valley. This small
space regenerates
people in the same
way snow melt regen-
erates the creek.
Healing spaces,
whether they are
small scale, enclosed
by bales of straw,
great Gothic stone ca-
thedrals, or tensile
aluminum structures,
are important to the
regeneration of our
culture and resources.
Not that all spaces
and buildings need to
be healing. Yet a few
particular regenerating spaces making up each
place can improve the relationship between people,
their communities and natural environments.
Structure seems to have grown out of the rocks' progression.

Earth Cycles
Material selection based on the spaces they
enclose and location of the building, connect indi-
vidual experience to surrounding ecological sys-
tems. Spatial relationships and the composition
of materials can either generate or sap energy from
us and the environment. The procreative pro-
cesses of the earth strive for the former. That which
sustains the life of plants, and all organisms,
including ourselves, must also be alive. The earth
is a living organism. It must be treated as one.
As the case studies throughout this section
show, materials should be selected based on the
local ecosystem and human patterns of engage-
ment with the environment. Materials should be
used that are in close proximity to the site. They
should be wisely chosen with an awareness of the
embodied energy that has gone into their produc-
tion. They must be chosen on the basis of how
embodied energy is most beneficial to human pur-
pose. Earth and materials should always be re-
spected for their cyclical capabilities in perpetuat-
ing the life processes.
"What we do to the earth
we do to ourselves. As
we honor the earth we are
honored. "u (Linn)
Water, air, and sunlight / fire all regenerate
at much faster rates than earth, soil, or land. The
earth replenishes us faster than it does itself
through the growing of food, and its regen-
erative processes. Soil, land and natural materi-
als, including coals and fossil fuels, are renewed
at an incredibly minuscule rate. Yet they do have
the ability to be reused, recovered, and recycled.
The ingredients and methods that we compose our
materials determine their embodied energies and
in turn their ability to be regenerated. A brick wall
may crumble or generate into a berm. Broken sky-
lights may become park benches. Landfills could
diminish into
veins of re-
source. If each
person had a
compost that
generated an
once of soil, it
would keep the
earths pro-
cesses cycling.
These systems of earth and material make
up one component of the complex web of patterns
and processes of the environment. Every envi-
ronment from the most natural to the most man-
manipulated contains earth, water, air and sun /
fire. One does not end and another begin, but they
cyclically overlap. They all loop through and into
each other interconnectively. By categorizing these
systems into their related elements, I do not mean
to isolate them, rather I intend to examine each
ones elemental patterns to understand and extend
them into design.

1 Christopher Day, Places of the Soul. Aquarian Press Thorsons, London, 1990 p.39.
2 Phillip Tabb, (Lectures for Environmental Control Systems. University of Colorado, Fall 1994)
3 Carol Venolia, Healing Environments (Celestial Arts, Berkeley CA, 1988.) p.47&48.
4 Louis I. Kahn famous quote Let the brick be what it wants to become..
5 Steve Chappel, Sustainable Construction, Joiners Quarterly No. 28. p.7.
6 Van Der Ryn, and Cowan, Ecological Design (Island Press Washington DC & Covelo CA, 1996)p.94.
7 Venolia, p.102.
8 Venolia, p.149.
9 Netscape, ,Sustainable Building Sourcebook, Strawbale construction.
10 Steve Chappel, Sustainable Construction, Joiners' Quarterly No. 28. p.11.
11 Frank Lloyd Wright, The future of Architecture (Horizon Press, NY, 1963) p.227.
12 0ruce Goff "Fourty-four Architectural Realizations, The Architecture of Bruce Goff. (The Art Insitute of Chicago, 1995) p. 41.
13Venolia, p.188.
14Linn, Sacred Space : Clearing and Enhancing the Energy of Your Home. (Random House, NY 1996) p.95.
All poetry, sketches, drawings and photos by author unless otherwise noted.
Wheat Design on Fabric on p.37 by Bob Benvenuto.
Carter Residence designed by TY, adobe contracted and constructed by Grant Morin.
Photo of Urban Compost on p.50 by Jennifer Boyne.

Dark lakes at the foot of the Sangres,
Created by clouds,
their shadows fall deep
replenishing the ground's aquifer.
Water replenishes and keeps our systems
running, our bodies as well as our buildings. Many
of our environmental building systems are perpetu-
ated by the energy of water. This section will fo-
cus on systems that mediate water through the built
environment. They use waters properties to en-
ergize the system and celebrate waters sensory
qualities by contacting the body through touch,
sight, taste, and sound.
Water is the medium
which is to be used to
energize these forces.
Water on the body.
Water in the body.
Water all around you. "l
(Findhorn Garden Community)
Healthful environmental systems benefit ex-
perience by recirculating water of the ecological
system. They allow water to replenish people and
ecosystems. Healthful water systems can range
from a traditional sacred pool in a domus to a high-
tech radiant hot water heating system. Certain
environmental systems hold a reverence for wa-
ter. Some systems may also be celebrated or held
as sacred. Waters curative and rejuvenating quali-
ties renew our bodies, our minds and our spirits.
Can buildings partake in waters regenerative
The use of water in environmental systems
can enrich our quality of life through integration,
through direct experience, awareness of its source,
and the participation in its cycles. The following
are some examples and case studies that interact
in a comprehensive ecological context.

Water responds to and creates form. Its
patterns are powerful forces that shape land
through erosion, carve streams from runoff, and
dictate the siting, roof shapes, and materials of our
buildings. The patterns of water movement which
penetrate, overlap, and interlock with vegetation,
land formation, and materials become ecological
models that guide design.
Almost every successful
architectural detail is
based on nothing more
obtuse than the fact that
water can be counted on
to freeze at 32 degrees F,
to run downhill, and soak
into porous materials."2
These qualities and patterns of water that
are used as design models, connect the building
and building systems to its surrounding ecological
water systems. Specific water patterns that occur
on and around a site, such as the way a coastline
interlocks with the ocean or the way a glacier pen-
etrates a mountain lake are effective models or
guiding verbs for the design3 These guiding
patterns become apparent through extensive site
reconnaissance. By observing, recording, map-
ping, and intuitively interpreting the evolutionary
development of site, deep patterns of the place
Process of a Water Pattern
manifest. When the design of the building is mod-
eled after discovered patterns, connections are
made between the built environment and the eco-
system. They become interdependent rather than
A project I worked on in Douglas Dardens
summer 1995 studio serves as an example of a
water pattern which became the driving force that
guided the design. The project was to design a
fish factory on the Alaskan coastline. Our task was
to analyze and evaluate the patterns and relation-
ships of the coastline, village and topography.
From this site reconnaissance, patterns were dis-
covered from which to base the design. These
patterns where forces or verbs exerted on the
ecosystem by buildings or on the built environment
and landscape by the ecological system. Water

and snow patterns were most dominate for this site.
Of course, everyone discovered different, yet of-
ten related, patterns from the site. What remained
important was the relationship between each de-
sign decision to the building at all scales and ulti-
mately to the predominate ecological pattern.
A dominant pattern that emerges out of the
relationship between the finger-like coastline and
the tidal waters was interlocking. The coastline
interlocks with the water in both the vertical and
horizontal directions due to the changing tides
against the cliffs and on the shore. Glaciers inter-
lock with the land and water in a similar though
slower manner. It was necessary for the livelihood
of the small fishing village to interlock with the
ocean through its
roads, pathways, and
docks, and the inter-
play of negative
spaces between its
buildings and the
coastline. This pattern
guided how the fish
factory met the ground
and coastline, how the
individual spaces inter-
acted functionally, and
how the wells for the
live fish were con-
The factory be-
came a series of build-
ings, one for the fish
processing, one for dis-
tribution and a third for
the public dock and boat landing. These three
buildings formed a small bay which interlocks wa-
ter for the village when the tide goes down. The
buildings were designed to interlock with the coast.
The spaces interlocked in section and plan
for spatial and functional efficiency. The fish dry-
ing processes interlocked with the smoking pro-
cess in order to allow the workers easy transport
of the dried fish to the smokers with little waste.
The two wells incorporated lock systems out to the
bay for water circulation and changing levels for
the fish. Each bow truss over the barrel vault in-
terlocks with the live wells and foundation piers at
an overall as well as on a detailed scale. Steel,
wood, and poured in place concrete came together


in a pinned lap joint connections. The live-well
system became the core of the building by con-
necting the fish directly with their correlating pro-
cesses. This also prevented fish waste. The roof
vault was partially formed to direct water runoff into
these wells.
The main barrel vault was also oriented to
capture breezes with incrementally interlocking
windows for cross-ventilation throughout the fac-
tory. Ventilation is a prevalent issue for any fac-
tory, especially for fish. The windows rotated and
locked in place in order to respond to the chang-
ing direction of air movement.
This is one example of how water patterns
can be used to guide design. When the building
design is modeled after such patterns, connections
between the built system and surrounding ecologi-
cal systems are given the chance to emerge. The
built systems learn by responding to the water
patterns of nature. These models guide how both
the building systems function, the forms develop,
and how the spaces relate to each other and the
site. The architecture then has the chance to be
more than a single isolated object by participating
in the patterns and cycles beyond the scope of the
building. Interlocking into the patterns of the
worker, the built environment, and the surround-
ing ecological system, as in this example, enables
such relationships to develop.

Water is held with honor particularly in the
arid western regions. The Rocky Mountains pro-
vide the water source for much of the western
United States. They serve as the continental di-
viding line for waters flowing into the Pacific or At-
lantic Oceans. The Colorado River carries most
the water running off to the western Pacific direc-
tion, however, by the time it reaches Mexico it is
only a stream. It has more people and industry
dependent on it than any similar sized river in the
"If the Colorado River suddenly stopped
flowing, you would have four years of
carryover capacity in the reservoirs be-
fore you had to evacuate most of South-
ern California and Arizona and a good
portion of Colorado, New Mexico, Utah
and Wyoming."4 (Reisner)
The fact that this region holds the gate key
to the watershed which supplies such vast quanti-
ties of life makes it crucial to treat water with rev-
erence and recognize its capacity as a replenish-
ing element. A good example of reverence for
water has been established by the use of roof and
surface collection basins. The careful selection of
materials, integrated forms, and site orientation em-
phasizes their interaction with the surrounding
ecosystems water flow. To understand just how
Water Collection and Redistribution Systems
much water a collection system may capture, the
U.S. Geological Survey has calculated an example:
"Let's say you live on a lot that is 1/2
acre ...and that a storm drops one inch
of rain. You've just received 13,577 gal-
lons of water on your yard.! A big bath
holds about 50 gallons of water, so if you
could save that inch of water, you could
take a daily bath for 271 days!" 5
A water collection example that has been
technologically perfected is the roof system of
Michael Reynolds Earthships. The way this sys-
tem retains water and allows it to drain and perco-
late into the ground sets up a cyclical relationship
between the Earthship and the existing ecological
systems. The size of the roof to collection-basin is

calculated according to usage, a south sloping roof
provides meltage with less evaporation than a north
slope or flat roof, and water is channeled with ply-
wood crickets towards its point of use.6 The prob-
lem here is that it is only applied to one universal
roof type.
These basic principles can be applied to any
building and many roof types. South sloping roofs
decrease the average 25% evaporation rate of
snow melt. This provides a greater percentage of
water to reach the cisterns and points of use. The
shape of a roof should respond to the specific ma-
terials, methods of construction, and site. Roof
and site collec-
tion systems
are usually
coupled with
waterless solar
toilets and
gray water sys-
tems which al-
low the collec-
tion systems to provide a substantial portion of the
needed water. There is much to be learned from
the basic principles of collecting water with respect
to quantity, slope, and flow direction. Such guide-
lines for site and building specific design could af-
ford healthful progress to many building typologies.
For example, a catch-water system which responds
to site and vegetation patterns by directing rain and
snow runoff is shown in Pueblo West Ecumenical
Sanctuarys roof slope and form. The scuppers
shed water to the east and west. The water is
channeled towards landscaped vegetation, natu-
ral grasses and wildflowers. This structure is in a

Water collecting roof system Dillion
climate with little snow
build-up, therefore di-
minishing the impor-
tance of a south fac-
ing slope. Other pat-
terns such as light
become the primary
determinate of form.
Water col-
lected by these sys-
tems moves into ei-
ther cisterns, reten-
tion ponds or land- |f|
scaped percolation
beds. Cisterns can be located outside or inside,
exposed or covered. Indoor cisterns provide many
design possibilities. The exposed surface water
becomes a spatial enhancement by bringing wa-
ter in proximity of the inhabitants senses of touch,
sound, and sight. The surface water evaporates
into the space, creating a natural humidifier.
In the case of
outdoor cisterns and
retention ponds, redi-
recting the collected
water over the loca-
tion of the cistern and
the cisterns response
to the direction of the
water flow is the first
relationship to be con-
sidered. This brings
the outside water flow
indoors for temporal
retention, eventually
Retention pool Arcosanti

draining it back into the ground. The shape, size
and spatial organization of the cistern is usually
determined by the use of water and spatial pat-
terns in the architecture. Cisterns that are
exposed offer people the opportunity for direct
contact with water, supporting the notion of rever-
ence for water. The pictured example at Arcosanti
responds to the extreme dryness of the desert by
exposing a small oasis. Reverence and respect
for water is garnered through a constant aware-
ness of its presence.
Building system methods have also devel-
oped out of waters relentless ability to penetrate.
Systems can take advantage of this property by
allowing water to penetrate through integrated
natural and constructed filters. Advantages to
these water systems is that water can be filtered
of toxins, absorbed into the land, replenishing the
ground water, and beneficial to the surrounding
vegetation, rather than being carried off by storm
Greywater systems are constructed filters
which allows water to be reused in toilets for car-
rying away black water, or to replenish the ground-
water or aquifer after primary levels of treatment.
Greywater tanks can be enclosed concrete hold-
ing and settling tanks that redistribute three to five
days of waste water (1000 gallons) through water
toilet systems.7 The source of greywater can be a
kitchen sink, bathroom sinks or showers. Michael
Reynolds has invented an indoor greywater ab-
sorbing system creating a large, lush growing area
that is also a greywater treatment container.8 The
water containing membrane is standard EPDM
Wi^r Collection Basins in the landscape. Pueblo West]
Elizabeth Ingram Wright
roofing laid over the desired material used in the
floor and the knee retaining wall. The greywater is
filtered through a perforated pipe at the base, alu-
minum screen over gravel at mid-layer, and a layer
of topsoil for plants and vegetation.
Percolation beds and constructed wet-
lands consist of flora and fauna that filter the water
of a single dwelling or areas large enough for the
runoff of an entire town. They are shaped around
the buildings discharge and landscape.
"Percolation beds and retention basins
are low areas usually constructed near
impervious surfaces which generate fast
runoff... Percolation beds can look more
'like a sculpture garden than a rain
sink."9 (Wells)

Constructed wetlands consist of plants and
microbiotic organisms which filters the buildings
water allowing it to be discharged back into the
site, or used in greywater systems. The wetland,
usually constructed out of mass retaining knee
walls, becomes either part of the interior or exte-
rior building system. It is usually interior if used as
greywater, exterior if reintroduced into the site or
desired as outside constructed landscape. The
water penetrates through these filtering systems,
in ways that reflect ecosystem drainage patterns.
The buildings drainage and filtering systems are
modeled from the ecosystem.
"Constructed wetlands, by af-
firming the patterns that main-
tain healthy organisms and eco-
systems, achieves a high quality
of treatment with minimal
energy input and chemical
intervention."10 (Van Der Ryn)
This recirculation process enables a unified,
cyclical relationship with the natural and ecologi-
cal processes. Water that normally would run
down concrete drainage culverts now uses waters
penetrating ability to replenish the ground water.
By circulating and rerouting water through these
types of systems, water is more fully utilized and
Radiant tubing set into core of the
wall acting as a buit-in radiator.


F* L oo Hi pWilU-
FLooKSLAfib .
\ tA-giA'

IR6. HteUt-Tle* ,
(2,1^10 lNbi4LtfjTc*l

Radiant hot-water tubing is made of a high-
tech TM Vesigard inner and outer layer with a thin
aluminum core in-between for added conduction,
strength and shape retention. The tubings resil-
iency allows it to form to any space and density for
needed heat. The tubing can be laid below or within
a slab or under sub-flooring for second floor appli-
cations. It may also be beneficial in colder climates
to layer the tubing partially up a brick or adobe
wall. Entire four foot sections of wall can be trans-
formed into radiators.
The quality of heat experienced from radi-
ant hot water is felt when the bare foot or skin con-
tacts the mass floor or wall material. Instead of
transferring body heat into the buildings surfaces,
the building adds heat to the body, enhancing the
sensory experience of the space.
The heat provided by this radiant water sys-
tem is one of the closest to the radiant heat pro-
vided by the sun. Its resilient and uniform ability to
heat a space invigorates contact with the building.
Circulating hot-water through radiant tubing con-
ducts uniformly vibrant heat. This system utilizes
two of waters most prevalent properties: its ability
to circulate and its ability to conduct. Conduction
is the transfer of energy through a medium by di-
rect molecular interaction.11 The way a radiant
heating system utilizes water properties is similar
to ecological processes. Water is the greatest heat
conductor out of the four basic elements. Con-
duction and circulation play a role in our relation-
ship to water and the surrounding ecosystem.
Radiant Hot Water Systems
Radiant heat systems act as the medium
that creates direct interaction between the skin and
the material conducting heat. Forty five percent of
body heat is lost by radiation.12 Radiant heating
tubes circulate and recirculate water through this
system. These relationships and processes allow
integration and experience of a radiant hot water
system that begins to make some connection to
ecological processes through its conductive, cir-
culating, and cyclical qualities.
Materials that complement radiant hot wa-
ter heating systems contain heat absorbing mass,
such as tile, brick, or stone. These materials most
successfully retain and distribute heat provided by
radiant heating. Rather than universally carpeting
every floor, it is favorable to use these mass mate-
rials, which are often indigenous to the region.

Even the most basic water systems of bath-
ing, can take on forms guided by the surrounding
ecological patterns. Showers adjacent to the
sunspace or part of the mass wall behind allow
morning light and view of outer contexts. The view
could be directed up to the overhanging branches
or out to the wheat field depending on the surround-
The material that is felt under foot or hand
could reflect the river-rock found in a nearby
stream. The best shower I have ever experienced
was constructed of round river rock. The texture
of each rock became a hand grip or a place for
soap and shampoo. The texture, shapes, and color
of the surrounding stones created a varied sen-
sory experience that related to the dwellings con-
text. Showering connected the owners and guests
to the nearby hot sulfur springs and stream run-
ning through the property. The rock contained the
heat during the drying process.
Shower and bath systems, which provide
light, view, textural material, space, and hot water
that relates to the experience of what it means to
be cleaned, can be curative. Hot water is the key
ingredient to cleansing and curative showers. The
way in which the water is heated is also an inte-
gral part of the shower experience. When the hot
water is heated by the sun, it is curative to the indi-
vidual and surrounding ecological system. It is psy-
chologically associated with the sun and physically
connected with a renewable energy cycle. Aware-
ness of the sun heated hot-water with the sensory
experience of river rock enhances the shower or
Hot-water systems are curative in the way
they loosen muscles, release tension and relax the
body. When the bathing system does this by pro-
viding daylight, a desirable view, space, and hot
water that relates to the surrounding ecosystem,
the curative experience will be enhanced. To
shower or bathe means to be renewed. A curative
experience by connecting to the ecological element
and patterns of water will continue the renewing
Natural mountain hot springs that emerge
from the earth as vapor turning to small streams of
boiling water, cleanse and rejuvenate. People con-
tinue building the initial rock formulated pools out
of surrounding stone. This provides large areas
for people to soak, cleanse, and cure. Often people
make this a monthly or yearly ritual. When people
visiting these hot springs return home, part of their
experience of this unique ecological system
inevitably returns with them.

Celebrated-Rej uvenating
People respond posi-
tively to water. Many wa-
ter systems express cura-
tive qualities, often cel-
ebrating human experi-
ence of water. Healthful
water systems integrated
into building design allow
celebration of water, re-
plenishing and recirculat-
ing it through the built en-
vironment and ecosystem.
We are physiologically
cooled, psychologically
replenished, aesthetically
inspired, and spiritually
renewed by water. Some
water systems are designed into spaces solely to
celebrate these qualities. Examples of such water
elements are flow forms designed by John
Wilkes. These sculped stone flow forms are based
on forms found in nature and archetypal flow pat-
terns in living organisms. These flow forms have
also been incorporated into handrails, stairs, and
indoor and outdoor fountains.
"Water 'flow forms' enhance waters
curative and life supporting
functions...the rhythmic flows help oxy-
genation and are of benefit to life."u

Flow form by JohnWilkes
Ritual Water Systems
Water systems designed into buildings to
celebrate water often have symbolic meanings. A
small vessel of water carefully placed within a
space may symbolize peace and solitude. Water
may play a part in a space of ritual, a space to
experience a few moments of daily quiet or medi-
tation. Water in many rituals and cultures symbol-
izes birth, rebirth, and renewal. In baptismals, in-
terior pools of water are designed to celebrate
waters transforming qualities that renew and reju-
venate. Baptismals bring water inside as an inte-
gral element of participation in space. Such types
of indoor water systems are physically experienced
in order to psychologically and spiritually heal, re-
new, or rejuvenate people and their relationship to
buildings, ecosystems, the earth and heavens.
Aesthetic experience, often
as ritual, supports connec-
tions to these elements.
When the experience is
rejuvenating, the individual
will benefit from the cel-
ebrated water system as
will the surrounding eco-
logical system. If water
systems are designed to
rejuvenate people through
their cycles, it is more likely
that the natural ecological
water system will be
treated with reverence.
Flow form that has been
integrated into handrail.

Water Relationships
All forms of life relate directly with water.
Human life can either relate positively to this ele-
ment by beneficially, collecting, storing, using and
reintroducing waterthrough the ecosystem. Or we
can choose to relate negatively by using water
carelessly and cutting off its ability to recirculate.
In the latter example, the end use of water is only
for humans. Once it is used, it goes off to the sewer.
No further experience or further circulation occurs.
In the former, our interplay with water dynamics is
just another factor that keeps our ecological sys-
tems continually balancing. This relationship is
more symbiotic in that the architectural system
along with the ecosystem benefit from the interac-
tion. The difference in the two choices lies in the
use and replenishment of water instead of con-
tinually dumping it down a drainage sink.
The primary argument, exhibited in these
examples however, is that not only are we creat-
ing a more cyclical relationship with water, but that
this relationship enhances our experience. These
processes of oxygenation, thriving plant life, the
sound of circulation, the sight and texture of wa-
terthrough an indoor cistern are enriched through
waters connection to the surrounding ecological
Waters patterns, when used as design
models, can guide design that is related to the
ecosystem. Organization of spaces and building
forms at all scales relate to there surrounding
ecological processes through rigorously applying
such models. Once these connections are made,
buildings have the opportunity to play a more posi-
tive role in the ecological process.
The potential for enlivening buildings are
further manifested through waters symbolic and
spiritual connections to place. A spiritual place
that embodies symbolic meaning and association
can be a fine layer to enlivening particular spaces.
Water systems that exhibit these qualities and
patterns throughout buildings have the potential
to become integral to the living system.

1 Findhorn, Findhorn Garden Book, (Findhorn Press ) p.44.
2 Malcolm Wells, Gentle Architecture, (McGraw-Hill, New York, 1981) p13.
3 Douglas Darden, One of his ideas as a method for designing buildings, Lecture, 6-95.
4 Marc Reisner, Cadillac Desert, (Penguin Books Ltd., New York1996) p120.
5 USGA Survey Info. Netscape, 6 Reynolds, Earthships Vo! 3, (Solar Survival Press, Taos 1993) p.49,50.
7 Van Der Ryn, Toilet Papers, (Capra Press, Santa Barbara, 1978) p.83.
8 Reynolds, Earthships Vol 3,p.61.
9 Wells, Gentle Architecture, p.70.
10 Van Der Ryn, Toilet Papers, p.125.
11 Stein & Reynolds, Mechanical & Electrical Equipment for Buildings 8th Edition, (John Wiley & Sons, New York 1992)
12 Pearson, The Natural House Book, (Cronicle Books, San Francisco, 1995) p 54 .
13 Pearson, Earth to Spirit, (Cronicle Books, San Francisco, 1995) p. 26.
All photos, drawings and models by TY.

Ephemeral winds on the back of the prairie
empowering the wings of the mill.
Soon its sounds fade from forcefulness
to silence embodying soul.
Air and wind patterns are some of the most
common phenomena that effect daily life, yet they
are the most ephemeral and difficult to grasp. The
general direction of wind across a site is fairly con-
sistent and predictable, yet constant changes and
swirling microclimate breezes make the patterns
inherently complex. How can buildings respond
to these patterns in order to put the breath of life
into its membranes?
Designing built systems which are respon-
sive to or modeled after air and wind patterns,
whether they respond to the general frequency and
direction of wind on a site or its more intricate and
unpredictable qualities, may reveal answers to this
Wall systems that act as breathing mem-
branes have such potential. Some methods for
constructing wall systems allow more air exchange
through its membranes while maintaining thermal
efficiency through mass materials. Mass walls of
stone or adobe along with air spaces and insula-
tion are thermally advantageous because they
have the capacity to temper outside to inside air,
mediating desirable temperatures. Ventilation that
is healthful allows greater air exchange in order to
prevent indoor toxins from accumulating and takes
advantage of walls tempering and breathing quali-
ties. Wood constructed wall systems that are not
completely vapor barriered can be the best
breathing systems.
"...eliminate the plastic
bag to build buildings
that breathe....A building
which through its fabric
is in a constant state of
moderated exchange be-
tween inside and outside
feels -and is- a healthy
place to be in." 1 (Day)

Designing a building with regards to how
walls and spaces might breathe could be the force
which drives the design. Wind and air patterns
can be models for building design decisions which
integrate environmental systems. Healthful envi-
ronmental systems become the lens for identify-
ing and utilizing these patterns. For example,
everything from how the wall is constructed to sit-
ing the building could be guided by the model of
how a landscape or organism inhales and exhales
air. The buildings forms and relationship of spaces
respond to the sites intake and exhaustion of air
and wind.
A person inhales air into the cavity of their
lungs allowing it to absorb for a moment before
exhaling. A wall system may be modeled after this
pattern by inhaling cool night air into a cavity or air
space, pulling it through valves and holding it the
following summer day to cool the building. When
the cool air is exhausted, as the oxygen is exhaled,
the valves release the air to benefit from the
evening circulation. The process continues into
the next cycle similar to breathing.
Building designs that respond to and are
modeled after wind and air patterns provide the
opportunity to enrich the experience of the
buildings relationship to the ecological community.
Wall membranes and spaces that breathe in air
allow people contact with the surrounding air pat-
terns and movement. When mediating air systems
are modeled after these patterns and movements
they will be more site responsive and sensitive to
the fundamental human need for outside air.

Walls and Spaces must breathe in response
to air flow and peoples use of the space. Interior
spaces need between two and three air exchanges
per hour depending on the function and the sea-
son. Spaces also need to breathe through flexibil-
ity of function, circulation, views, and variety of
ceiling heights and scales. Spaces need to en-
close and protect without confining or restricting.
Oxygenating the space which is enclosed
by buildings is fundamental to the quality of life
and health of the occupants and ecological com-
munity. Providing fresh outside air that is clean is
a challenge in these days of high air pollution and
toxic levels of carbon dioxide outside and airtight
buildings inside. Buildings contain many chemi-
cals, solvents, and toxins which never have the
chance to ventilate after construction. Often these
ventilation systems are regulated in a remote lo-
cation of the building. Our technologies have al-
lowed us airtight, highly sealed buildings, yet
Process of Oxygenating Space
people still need to locally ventilate spaces and
experience the outside air. Buildings and systems
that integrate operable window and passive venti-
lation systems, materials with varying porosity, and
use plant life indoors and out, have the propensity
to utilize the sites wind and air patterns.
Operable window and passive ventilation
systems enable a building to breathe. Operable
window systems allow a high variance of outside
air into the building. Peoples ability and need to
modulate outside air enables them to become an
extension of the system. The importance of modu-
lating windows may seem blatantly obvious, but it
is often not considered, especially in larger scale
buildings. An operable window system allows di-
verse amounts of air volume to enter the space,
varying the levels of air exchange. They may be
built into a plant basin that helps filter and regulate
air flow. Each person plays a part in air circula-
tion, allowing various levels of contact with the
outside environment. This built system is more
likely to connect people with the ecological com-
munity and participate in variations of its air
Passive ventilation systems that respond to
the sites wind and air patterns develop certain
forms and spatial relationships. It is not simply the
single window plant-basin system that is important
but how this individually modulated system is part
of the buildings response to air and wind patterns.
The building is responsive at all scales from the
single modulatable window to the angle and


orientation of the wall membranes.
For example, an Environmental Learning
Center I worked on was largely driven by the sites
wind and air patterns. The center was to be lo-
cated on an urban corner site which gave it two
surfaces of exposure. The one to the northwest
primarily intakes air while the southeast exhausts
air from the building. The walls angle and siting
responds to the predominant northwesterly winds
and breezes in order to ventilate and cool the load
dominated building. Load dominated buildings are
primarily heat producers making cooling the pri-
mary need. A fin system directs the breezes and
air flow through the building by running northwest
to southeast. The battered walls aided in this pro-
cess by capturing air as well as shading the win-
dows during the summer months. The wall mem-
branes were designed out of a wood and concrete
structural system that breathed more where air
needed to be exhausted, and recirculated air where
it could be beneficially redirected. The wood por-
tions allow more air to pass through, as do lungs
and internal membranes, while the concrete serves
as the structure and wind block, more like a rib
The walls also utilized a Night air flushing
system. 2 This system utilizes the dramatically
changing temperature of night air, allowing it to
breathe. It consists of hollow floor and wall cores
that pull cool air through modulated valves into the
membranes during the night. (Re: sectional draw-
ing) This system is ideal for dry climates that have
significant temperature differentials from day to
night. Night air flows through the wall membrane
and floor plenum cooling the material and space
of the load dominating buildings. Night flushing
systems clean out or flush many of the toxins
produced from the days photo copying, product
consumption, or machinery usage. These systems
inherently allow buildings to breathe new air in,
through, and out its walls nightly.
The operable window system of this build-
ing consisted of horizontal bands that were high
and low on each floor for maximum convection of
air flow. Plant shelves and planters where also
integral components of the window system help-
ing filter and direct air.
Indoor and surrounding plant life not only
filter water as demonstrated in constructed wet-
lands, but they create oxygen necessary for clean
air infiltration through buildings. Recent NASA
studies indicate that certain plants can effectively
reduce indoor pollution levels by absorbing pollut-
ing gases into their leaves.3 Plant life and land-
scape which are integral with the building foster
health of the surrounding ecological community. It

is connective through its exchange of air and inte-
gral to the quality of air in its surroundings. Build-
ings with plants aid in the production of oxygen.
We breathe in the oxy-
gen that plants contrib-
ute to the atmosphere.
They breathe in carbon
dioxide we expel." 4
Buildings could potentially become air
detoxifiers. Building systems could aid in the air
purification process through material usage and
systems integration. Symbiotic relationships
between built systems and ecosystems may
be realized through a wall of trees or, as in this
example, an indoor plant-basin / operable window
system that responds to the air and wind patterns.
They provide both quality space for people and
clean air for the ecosystem.
The air systems of this building exhibit a
hypothetical example of how wind and air patterns
can inform the design. Modeling buildings after
air patterns enables experience of the ecological
system. It gives people various abilities of modu-
lation and a buildings walls and spaces an ability
to breathe. Buildings modeled after wind and air
patterns of the site, patterns of oxygenation and
the buildings ability to breathe connect experience
of the space to the ecological community.

Responsive Circulating_______________________
Paolo Soleri has tested building systems
designed in response to ecological wind and air
patterns for over thirty years. The preeminent
forms and spatial relationships at Arcosanti down
in the prairies of Arizona are primarily modeled in
response to air and wind patterns. One of the
fundamental needs down in this desert region is
the implementation of cooling methods. Architect
Paolo Soleri has built cooling systems modeled
after wind patterns of the prairie, which he terms
solar apses, cooling vaults, and exhaust vent
Solar apses capture breezes recirculat-
ing them into, around and out to the surrounding
buildings and ecosystems. They also respond to
sun angles by shading the interior spaces in the
high afternoon. The apse form is much like the
apses on the eastern portion of Gothic cathedrals,
only the void of the apses at Arcosanti are nega-
tive exterior spaces with interior spaces at the pe-
riphery. The forms and adjacent spaces are re-
markably similar to the nearby Anasazi cliff dwell-
ings to the north at the four corners region. Anasazi
Indians discovered places to build their dwellings
in and around naturally formed cliff indentations
which reflect some of the same ecological patterns
of cooling and wind that Soleri has used to model
his buildings. (See photo page 3.)
A slightly more prevalent variation of the
solar apses throughout the ecological community
of Arcosanti are the central cooling vaults. These
vaults are oriented to funnel air and wind through
Wind Patterns in Arcosanti
the complex
and into the
spaces. These
vaults are ori-
ented along a
axis with a
slight shift to-
wards the west for capturing northwesterly winds
and breezes. They recirculate and filter air through
openings and
alleyways in
the building
complex much
like wind tun-
nels in the
nearby Grand
Canyon. Airis
fed into the liv-
ing quarters
and working studios. These vaults programmati-
cally act as the central public space for large gath-
erings and
concerts. Hav-
ing been de-
signed in re-
sponse to local
wind patterns,
has led them to
be acoustically
vibrant spaces.

At Arcosanti, exhaust vent shafts act as
vertical air and wind circulation. These vertical
shafts take advantage of hot airs passive quality
to rise. These spatial cooling systems draw air up
from lower spaces, either buried into the hillside or
on its crest, and release it up through what is es-
sentially a cooling chimney. The lower spaces are
arranged in response to the hillside and the winds
frequency and flow over the hillside and surround-
ing ecological community. The lower air pressure
builds and is drawn through a central space or sev-
eral shafts. Paolo Soleris sectional drawings of
precedents for Arcosanti exhibit vast scales of
these magnificent shafts sprouting from the ground
and earth-dwelling spaces to the open sky above.
The manifestation of this idea at Arcosanti con-
sists of a gigantic colorful windsock hanging ap-
proximately fifty feet in a central vertical space. At
the top of this exhaust vent shaft hangs a large
ceiling fan aiding in the circulation process. This
system may seem anticlimactic after viewing such
impressive images of imagined ventilation shafts.
However, this simple low-tech system effectively
cooled the space on a fairly hot day. The experi-
ence of sitting inside on this hillside sketching the
complex and sipping a Blue Sky was definitely
enhanced by a continuous flow of outside to verti-
cally released air. The colorful five foot diameter
windsock is quite a spatial informer in itself.
These three cooling systems directly
respond to the air and wind patterns on this Cordes
Junction prairie. They also compose a great deal
of the overall composition and relationship of ele-
ments at Arcosanti. Therefore, I would conclude
that the air and wind patterns of circulation, rotary
movement, and tendency to rise served as a
primary driving force behind the design of
Arcosanti. By taking from and responding to eco-
logical patterns, Soleri has achieved connection
to this surrounding ecological community.

Wind can be powering, overpowering or
empowering. Its force and energy provide wind
chimes with sound, ventilation systems with cool-
ing, and buildings with electricity. Wind can be
overpowering and violent causing need for shelter
and protecting systems. This same intensity of
wind force can be empowering. People relate inti-
mately with wind; its movement is felt over the
pores of our skin and against the structure of our
bodies. Wind symbolizes freedom, change and
growth. A breeze through a window uplifts our
work, wind on an open mountain frees our
thoughts, and gales through a valley empower
electric power plants.
Wind energy is one of the most user-friendly
sources of power. Whether the wind system is of
the most passive nature, redirecting breezes and
air flow through space, or of the most highly tech-
nological electric power plant, people relate to wind
in relation to their own bodies and experience. The
wind is commonly known as a completely renew-
able energy that does not harm the earth or air
quality. Wind power is readily available in this re-
gion and inexhaustible.
People promote using wind for the produc-
tion of electricity. A paper presented to the Ameri-
can Wind Energy Association in Washington DC
in March 1995 found extremely high percentages
of public support. Typically, two-thirds to three-
fourths of those polled support wind development
even in areas with existing wind turbines.6
If wind energy is so accepted, why arent
Wind Power
there more electricity producing windmills and
electric power plants? The first thing that may
come to mind is cost. The second may be the
emphasis on using traditional or proven technolo-
gies. Costs of installing and implementing elec-
tricity producing turbines is declining, thus becom-
ing increasingly wise for the dollar. Wind energy is
economically competitive with fossil fuel and coal
energy sources for the first time since European
wind mills graced the landscape of the old
world. 7
"In California, the average
installed price in 1992 dol-
lars tumbled from nearly
$4000 per kilowatt in 1981
to a low of $1200 per kilowatt
in 1994" 8
This equates to about 5 cents to produce a kilo-
watt hour of electricity, in the same year it cost 2.8
cents for a coal power plant to produce a kilowatt
of electricity. It is important to note installed price
because once they are installed, there is no
further cost for fuels. Dollar cost weighed with eco-
logical costs such as air pollution and resource
depletion add up to wind power as an appealing
source of electric energy.
Potential then exists for the integration of
wind turbines into structures and the formulation
of spaces. Can these buildings become spatially
enhancing as well as electricity producing? Wind-

mills could become part of storage structures, ga-
rages, or guest houses. They could be integral
building components which define exterior space,
elicit visual interest and promote interaction. The
wind turbine as part of the building informs partici-
pants of the changing outdoor wind conditions, al-
lowing an interaction between people and chang-
ing elemental conditions. The Greek island of
Mykonos is an old world example for such wind-
mill structures. Mykonos village is defined by these
structures. They were used as water-pump houses
or grinding mills. They are integral to the village
form and identity of this symbolic island of wind.
Mykonos is a heuristic model for integrating todays
wind technologies.
Air and wind brought through buildings that
respond and adapt to human and ecological pat-
terns empower awareness and interaction with the
ecosystem. We can learn from the vernacular wind
buildings on Mykonos or the way farmers in the
Rocky Mountain valleys place buildings and wind-
mills in order to respond to wind and generate
power. Building in accordance with wind patterns
promotes human awareness of wind and air
through sound, sight, and tactile engagement of
the skin and body. The ability to experience and
participate in air patterns empowers individuals. It
provides physical interaction, as well as recogni-
tion and awareness of ecological patterns. Most
of all, it empowers human experience as being an
integral living factor within the whole ecological
system. Empowerment is achieved through
involvement and intimate belonging.

Acoustic Ensouling
Sound Systems
Sound traveling through air waves better
known as acoustics can enliven space. The echo-
ing and reverberating sounds we experience in a
canyon enable us to fully occupy the space.
Though the canyon walls may be five hundred feet
apart, the sound generated by a small bird of eight
cubic inches fills
miles of volumetric
space. Each
crevice and ledge
plays a part in re-
verberating the
birds sounds
throughout the
canyon. The
space of a canyon
made up of
ledges, crevices,
rock formations
and smaller canyons at varying scales, each play
an integral role to the acoustical experience, yet
the canyon made up of these distinguishable char-
acteristics is a unified harmonious space highly
integral to its surroundings. The acoustical
experience created by a small Mountain Jay in this
canyon is powerful and moving.
How can the built environments acoustical
systems and spaces allow for similar experiences?
Lessons exhibited by patterns of the canyon in-
clude ledges and crevices creating a greater yet
self-similar whole. The individual spaces and
ledges are similar to the whole space and canyon
face. They relate at varying scales. This tends to
give space quality acoustics no matter where one
is located in the space. All of the components,
spaces and systems are connected in response to
each other and the surrounding ecosystem. The
whole has the opportunity to create a space greater
than its individual
forms and compo-
A buildings acoustical
components should be
part of the spatial com-
position similar to the
ledges and crevices of
the canyon. When the
components, forms
and spaces make con-
nections to the building
and ecosystem as the
ledges and crevices do to the canyon, the spaces
can become acoustically dynamic, acting as an
interconnective system. The building system uses
surrounding ecological patterns as models in or-
der to enhance experience by connecting to the
ecosystems. The building systems interconnective
parts compose spaces with greater acoustical
qualities. The building is a unified system of re-
lated forms and spaces that together can resonate
the sounds of a choir or orchestra.
Like the canyon, built spaces can create
powerful and moving acoustical experiences. The
unified and harmonious spaces of Alvar Aaltos
Acoustical Study by Alvar Aalto with mirrors and a light source at the
chancel, so that the direction and volume of the sound waves could be
determined. This study gave form to the interior spatial relationships.9

Church of the Three Crosses in Vuoksenniske con-
nects to the surroundings patterns creating an en-
hanced acoustical experience much like a canyon.
The ceiling and wall components act as ledges and
crevices that are self-similar and create a unified
whole larger than the distinguishable features. The
building is responsive and connective to the sur-
rounding landscape and patterns, as some of the
roof forms seem to be derived from the hills and
tree branches relationship to the sky. This space
heightens acoustical experience and allows for full
occupation of the space. Some say presence of a
soul is in the walls and spaces of the building.
Spaces that provide heightened acoustical
experiences have greatly fostered the process of
ensouling buildings. Manifestation of soul in the
material components and spatial relationships of
a building may occur over time. Many cathedrals
and places of worship along with Aaltos church in
Vuoksenniske have absorbed years or centuries
of music, chants and voices within their walls.
There is a resonance of sound through acoustical
forms and space. The air waves over time (or as if
the walls could talk) tell the story of past perfor-
mances, singings and single prayers. Acoustical
spaces gain life over time.
Red Rocks amphitheater at the foot of the
Rocky Mountains connects the local ecological
patterns and geographical features to individual
and community experiences. The present space
and time of an acoustical chorus echoing through
Red Rocks elicits the sounds and feelings of many
centuries. The present embodies the past,
ensouling the moment. Building gains a deeper
meaning through peoples experience and inter-
action. A soulful building or place may first be
sensed by closing ones eyes and listening to its
voices. Voices that express through air and wind
where it has been and where it is going.

Wind Lessons
Every form and space of all building and
human development affects wind and air patterns.
Buildings can either benefit the air flow and venti-
lation of space, or they can isolate wind and air
patterns by neutralizing inside air as constant and
separate from the outside air. The examples such
as breathing wall systems, spatial systems that
respond to wind patterns, and building systems that
are systemic, link themselves to surrounding eco-
logical wind patterns, providing guidelines for de-
The first is to design buildings that breathe.
Both the wall membranes and the spaces should
breathe. Wall membranes and modulated systems
should intake outside air according to human needs
and ecological patterns, in relation to the surround-
ing air flow direction, intensity and frequency.
Secondly, building form and spatial relation-
ships should be informed by wind patterns. The
forms, orientations, and relationships of mass to
void respond to wind directions and frequencies
on the site, as at Arcosanti. These responses and
adaptations benefit spatial relationships between
the building and ecological community, and as a
result benefit the experience of being in the space.
Finally, buildings should be part of their sur-
rounding systems rather than separate entities.
The building becomes part of the system by link-
ing to the ecological community. The whole sys-
tem becomes greater than adding the buildings and
systems separately. Building connections to eco-
logical communities become systemic. The eco-
logical community benefits from the building link-
ing into its processes, much like a canyon benefits
from each ledge and crevice. Human experience
is enriched in spaces and buildings that are part of
the ecological system.
Designing with these guidelines can con-
nect our buildings with the surrounding ecological
patterns. The hopeful result is enlivened buildings
and spaces that enrich human experience. We
can envision, design for, and be a part of environ-
ments that connect to our surrounding ecological
communities, perhaps creating greater purpose
and meaning.
"Praise be for our brother the wind,
and for air and cloud, calms and all
weather by which you uphold in life
all creatures." St. Francis

1 Christopher Day, Places of the Soul: Architecture and Environmental Design as a Healing Art..(Aquarian Press Thorsons,
London, 1990) p42.
2 John Reynolds (Co-author of Mechanical and Electrical Equipment for Buildings) Explained the concept at an AIAS Lecture
in Portland, November 26,1995.
3 Sim Van Der Ryn, and Stuart Cowan, Ecological Design p.111.
4 Findhorn Community, Findhorn Garden Book, (Harper Perennial, 1975)p.173.
5 Field Research to Arcosanti, Tour, Lecture, and Study, March 19, 1996.
6 Paul Gipe, (Netscape) Pgipe@igcapcorg
7 Paul Gipe, Wind Energies Declining Costs. Solartoday. p.22-25.
8 Paul Gipe, Ibid, p.22-25.
9Alvar Aalto, 1898-1976 (Tames, 1970)
All sketches, drawings, models and photographs by TY.

Light reaches spirit
through light we are lifted, and released
through the opacity of
The Rose
and out the other side.
Healthful Environmental Systems of Sun. Light and Fire
Sunlight is within us, it is embodied in our
physical, emotional and spiritual growth. We take
it in through the fruits and vegetables we eat and
warmth it provides. We are interwoven into the
natural process of photosynthesis through light.
Without sunlight, life could not exist as we know it,
and when it is ignored our lives often suffer. Qual-
ity sunlight can feed us and enliven the space
through its infiltration, intensity, hue and texture. If
the presence of a leaf reveals the presence of the
sun1 why could not the space of a building reveal
the presence of the sun to human experience?
Sun and fires energy defines our visual and
thermal relationship with the surrounding physical
environment. The way a building is lit and heated
substantially effects the quality of our experience.
Integral lighting and solar heating systems have
the potential to connect people to the ecological
patterns of the sun and the thermal environment.
The sun is the largest energy source and
most prevalent symbol of fire we experience.
Through experiences of sun and light, we are
warmed, stimulated, and revitalized. Fire is the
element most life-like.2 It consumes food, leaves
behind usable waste, grows and moves on its own,
and eventually dies to return to the earth.
Solar spaces allow us to experience sun-
light in the form of gained heat. How we reflect,
aperture and filter this element through healthful
environmental systems fundamentally effects the
quality of experiencing the space. A solar space
has the potential to incorporate Some of the rich-
ness of the hearth3 by becoming a visual light
filter, as well as a thermal collector. This can mean
filtering desired light through alternating openings
with collectors that usually block our experience of
light or filtering sunlight through membranes ap-
plied to layers adjacent to the glazing. The

degrees of filtering, just as the size and type of a
hearth, depend on desired intensities, the latitude
and the local climate. Design of these membranes
and additional layers create useful space while al-
lowing an experience of the apertured sun in the
spaces beyond. Through this process the solar
space, like the hearth, can become a vital center
for warmth and life. By associating lights reveal-
ing space with needed thermal heat, a solar space
can become a hearth of light.
Different degrees, hues, intensities of
daylighting give space definition and variance.
These lighting qualities and intensities have the
ability to form patterns that respond and extend
the earths patterns in relation to the sun. The
suns light infiltrates through the atmosphere, to-
pography, trees, plants, and vegetation, continu-
ally varying its height, hue, and texture. It executes
a continual pattern from day to night. A clerestory
that responds to particular patterns by depth of
overhang, rhythm of openings, and height in rela-
tion to sun latitudes, existing foliage, and a persons
eye level, has the potential to make these patterns
meaningful to human experience. Healthful light-
ing systems which are modeled after existing light-
ing patterns are effective in beneficially connect-
ing experience with the sun's ecological systems.
Light quality is unique for every place, in
each room in every house, each work space in
every office, and at each alter space in every sanc-
tuary. The character of light widely varies accord-
ing to locale, from every building or microclimate
in each ecosystem. Every lighting system that is
designed in terms of site specific patterns contains
meanings that are grounded in place.
"The quality of sunlight that a site re-
ceives its intensity, color, movement,
and angles, its filtering by atmosphere
and foliage, its reflections of ground
water create cadenced patterns that
may sometimes recall but will never be
quite like those of any other place."4
Lighting systems can respond to these patterns
by attuning to the suns latitudes, reflecting and
refracting from local materials, and filtering accord-
ing to the desired intensity.
When we are flooded with poor monotonous
artificial lighting, connection is severed from the
patterns of daylight. Constant controlled unaware-
ness of natural cycles of light leaves us stagnant,
unconnected and drained. This type of lighting sys-
tem deadens buildings and the people forced to
use them.
Healthful lighting systems enhance build-
ings by enabling awareness of the suns changing
cycles. They allow for a variance of lighting through
a space, aperturing daylight where desired, and
incorporating artificial lighting that is recursive with
the architecture and complimentary to the natural
lighting process. The building systems in this sec-
tion enhance the spatial experience through their
response and utilization of ecological lighting and
heating patterns. Categories of these lighting
systems include: clerestory and lightshelves,
shutters and live louver systems, aperturing
devices, passive solar systems, and integrated
artificial lighting.

The clerestory is one of the oldest lighting
systems. Used by the Egyptians in 2680 BC. and
with extreme sophistication by the Romans in the
third century.5 Clerestories were the only means
for capturing light in the high recesses of space.
Since the perfection of artificial lighting, cleresto-
ries seemed to have diminished as an effective
lighting technique. Except for such masters as
Kahn, Corbusier, and Wright, they seemed to dis-
appear from the history books.
Clerestory and lightshelf systems can bring
light deep into spaces that may otherwise have
little chance for daylight. These lighting systems
are capable of indicating hierarchy of space and
defining where one space comes to closure lead-
ing into the next. They have the potential to uplift
perceptions of space by refracting and penetrat-
ing light. Spaces that are otherwise not noticed or
fully experienced become recognized and cel-
A regional example which I have had the
opportunity to work on exhibits some of these quali-
ties. Pueblo Wests Ecumenical Sanctuary de-
signed by Hurtig, Gardner, Froelich Architects en-
hances the space through integrating clerestory
lighting as a primary architectural component.
People are drawn into the sanctuary space from
the narthex through perceiving the above lighting
in the distance. The two clerestories run along the
diagonal of the space terminating at the stained
glass opening above the alter. The light serves as
a transition from reception space to the sanctuary.
Process of a Clerestory
As one enters the sanctuary from the narthex, the
space moves from a low nine foot ceiling to a up-
lifting twenty foot space that results from the form
and transparency of the clerestory. Throughout
the design process the clerestories were dominant
forces guiding the spatial relationships of the sanc-
tuary. In effect, the suns pattern across the site
becomes the dominant design pattern for the
The clerestorys north/south axis allows
people perception of morning to afternoon by the
sundial-like shadows. The quality of sunlight
infiltrated into a space from above is subtly
experienced, giving people a sense of the source
without direct and often times harsh exposure.
Natural light and hues from the surrounding
prairie and clouds are reflected inside giving people
subtle awareness of the changing conditions of the
surrounding ecosystem.

The experience of the clerestory becomes
further a part of the lighting process by its proxim-
ity and directional relation to the artificial
lightshelves. The lightshelves hang directly below
the structural gluelam supporting the clerestory
level. The lighting fixtures are discretely tucked
into the top recesses of the shelf. The artificial up-
lighting creates lightshelves for the clerestory while
adding fluorescent and incandescent light when
Lightshelves are effective components of
this lighting system. They become tectonic com-
ponents of the building form. Lightshelves are
essentially offspring of the overhang. Yet, they not
only shade direct daylight, they refract and reflect
light deeper into the space. Lightselves can be
thought of as overhangs lowered into the upper
range of the fenestration one third to a quarter of
the way down or used below a clerestory as in this
case. They can either cantilever outside and in-
side of the structure, extend outside for filtering
and diffusing light, or extend inside reflecting light
deeper into the space. The lightshelves in this
sanctuary cantilever two feet into the space allow-
ing more light to reflect inside and penetrate down
into the lower space. Proportionally integrated
lightshelves can bring light into the space 2.5 times
the height of the opening.6 The lightselfs dual func-
tion of refracting light as well as preventing over-
heating can be further effective by designing an
air space between the self and wall membrane.
These practical steps towards cooling and bring-
ing light deeper in to the space provide tectonic
opportunities to emphasis the architecture with the
microclimatic patterns.
Lightshelves at the base of clerestories
which also act as planters incorporate the advan-
tages of the change in seasons as well as provide
reflective hues of the seasonal color. Plant-
lightshelves enable the building to respond and
interact with the seasons by shading and infiltrat-
ing much of the light in the summer while allowing
more light to permeate in the winter months.
Artificial indirect up-lighting from the light
shelf interplays with the diminishing daylight until
it becomes the primary light source after dark. The
congregation or single prayer perceives this subtle
interplay when clouds pass over head or more sig-
nificantly at sunrise and set. An awareness of the
lighting process is created by relating the setting
sun to the artificial lighting. This lighting example
uses the technology of fluorescent and incandes-
cent lighting with clerestory daylighting rather than
as a replacement. Daylighting and artificial lights
begin to work together to create meaningful and
experiential associations.

"f WflJW.
- # I o'**. -
*'* of iu. J*+f
.' < A.U J
riMW *' i-^n
$$£% i5j[s$ *E* B*s.*e eie>
**tm: jjui-ij3fr
TKi' HuMrfj-sa pmm*
a* ^*>r
%*%" MTV Arud

There is need to continue integrat-
ing this fundamental lighting system
further for its uniquely powerful capa-
bilities. Such as a clerestory / artificial
light shelf system that could further in-
teract with and respond to the ecosys-
tem though the application of daylight
sensors and photovoltaic power. Au-
tomatic sun sensors could trigger T-8
fluorescent lights on a dimmer that re-
sponds to the passing clouds and
changing sun angles. The system
could be modulated by turning a dial
or left to the discretion of the sensors.
These sensors could also respond to
people movement. Upon entering the
space the lights could intensify and dim
after a period of stillness. People sens-
ing lights often enhance the experi-
ence, however, sometimes they are
more of an annoyance. In the later
case, manually operated back-up
switches are needed. Light and
movement sensors are just one of the
buildings capabilities for physically in-
teracting with people and the ecosys-
Applications of photovoltaics pre-
serve coal and fossil fuels by using the
sun as its source. Photovoltaics ap-
plied to a clerestory artificial light shelf
attains not only physical interaction with
the sun, but a psychological one with
participants. There is an awareness
that the sun is the source for both

PLANT- LIGHTSHELF Self system that responds to
solar and seasonal patterns.

the daylight and artificial light. This awareness may
not create any dramatic experiential difference, yet
for some it may mean positively associating artifi-
cial light with an ecologically renewable source.
The day is near when the pigmented concrete tiles
used for the roof of this Ecumenical Sanctuary will
contain photovoltaic cells on their surfaces.
Photovoltaics are discussed further at the
end of this section. These additional layers to a
lighting system enrich perceptions of the chang-
ing light and hue from day to night. They increase
the meaning of being lit and the interactions be-
tween participants and the artificial and daylighting

Shaded Exposed____________________________
Functioning shutters are basic shading and
thermal breaking devices that are made in all lev-
els of technological advancements. The basic
wood shutter with a rigid insulation core placed on
the interior for ease of use is a remarkably simple
system. The hinged shutter is often discounted as
an effective device or it is fixed to the outside of
suburban picture windows. A higher technological
example of the shutter is a French manufactured
product which is versatile for most types of win-
dows and dormers. The tectonic steel components
forms an awning in summer months that swings
down for all angles of shading. In the summer, the
system is hinged on the top of the opening. The
hinges are switched to the sides of the opening in
the winter months for reflecting light into the space
as well as night closure for insulation. These shut-
ters resiliently respond to the changing seasons
and climatic conditions.
Louvers also respond resiliently to ecologi-
cal changes by either mechanically rotating or
changing angles manually by swinging, notching
or pivoting devices. These systems can allow more
delightful interaction with the building and experi-
ence of the changing sun if they are integrated into
the architecture and not merely tacked on to the
outside of the building. Light awning or louver struc-
tures that manually or mechanically adjust to the
seasonal, diurnal, and climatic conditions, trans-
form the shading device from barrier to connector.
They infiltrate not just block light. Picture for ex-
ample, a light steel and Teflon mesh structure as
Shutters and 'Live' Louver Systems
part of a south facing courtyard which retracts in
the winter months when the sun is desired. In the
summer months it fully extends overhead creating
a light shading membrane, filtering direct exposure
of the steep angling sun. This system could oper-
ate on a timer that senses the changing of sea-
sons, sun angles and climatic conditions. Such
systems, in a sense, become alive through their
adaptive and resilient character. Current technolo-
gies enable these systems to transform and
respond by their own devices to natures changes.
Systems controlled by photovoltaic power and
sensors that automatically raise and lower louvers
based on the suns intensity already exist.7 It be-
comes our challenge to meaningfully and respon-
sibly integrate these technologies into buildings for
experiencing the light and heat of the sun in
desirable ways. When these systems interact with
the human and ecological living processes, they
become integral to the living process.

Apertured Infiltrated
Aperturing systems are inherently integrated
systems inseparable from the architecture. These
systems must be consciously designed with regard
to experience of light entering the space. The two
important design factors for these systems are di-
rectional focus of light and placement in relations
to natures processes for infiltrating light and de-
grees of intensity. The art of placing openings in
relation to local built fabric, climate and natural to-
pographies determines the intensity and effective-
ness of apertured light in a space for particular func-
An ideal example is Louis Kahns Kimbell
Art Museum, which specifically apertures light to
gently wash the art work. The angles of refracted
light apertured into the space are specific to the
space and desired level of intensity for viewing
painting and sculpture. Its placement is high and
central suggesting a direct stream from the out-
side, but the section reveals how the light is redi-
rected up and around the vault to the periphery.
This barrel vaulted lighting system captures the
changing light throughout the day. It specifically
apertures light through a series of curving plains
that filtrate it down the walls along the entire length
of the space.
"In Fort Worth, all the gallery is
on one floor. Therefore it can
consistently get its light from the
top. natural light is
essential."8 (Kahn)
Apertured Lighting Systems
Kimbell Art Museum Louis I. Kahn
Wall membrane thickness greatly deter-
mines directional focus and levels of intensity.
Design factors involved include depth of wall, trans-
lucence of material, and angle or radius of open-
ing. For example, an adobe wall which is usually
between 10" and 14" thick, has the opportunity to
aperture light into the space through many differ-
ent angles. The thickness of the wall allows less
light into the space because of the suns azimuth
and altitude angles. This is one reason it is an
indigenous material in the hot southwest. The ex-
terior and interior jambs can be beveled at any
angle to achieve specific intensities and directions.

Beveling window
openings at 25
degrees, and
bullnosing the ex-
terior corners, a
large amount of
morning light is
apertured and re-
fracted from the
surface area into
the space. The
beveled angle is
decreased to 10
degrees for the
south windows, therefore aperturing smaller spe-
cific intensities of light while maintaining solar gain
and thermal mass storage.
Ronchamp by Le Corbusier is the timeless
master example of a wall membrane that aper-
tures light. It is brilliantly apertured through wall
thickness that is formalistically created for the sole
purpose of light response and reflection. The
angled openings enliven experience on the inside
through color, hue, texture, and light pattern. The
pattern is complex and seemingly unrepeatitive,
yet similar throughout scales, from the smaller
openings to the whole composition. The closest
existing pattern may be the suns filtration through
clouds drifting across this mountainous region. The
roof mass also shades and reflects light in through
the sliver gap floating above the mass wall uplift-
ing Our Lady of Height.
Apertured lighting systems respond, bring
forward and extend the broader ecological patterns
of the sun. These two well-known examples re-
spond to the daylight patterns of the site by orient-
ing the light openings in order to capture and redi-
rect sunlight into the space. They extend the ex-
isting light patterns by the use of geometry and
technology, bringing daylight into the space as a
forest does into its basin. Apertured and infiltrated
light with varying degrees of intensity should be
distributed in rhythms that reflect and interact with
the patterns of the sun. Apertured and infiltrated
lighting systems interconnect our activities to
nature's rhythms, the rhythms that support us.
Notre-Dame-du-Haut Le Corbusier

Filtering Flooded
Sunlight used for passive solar collection
has potential to be a highly effective lighting sys-
tem, achieving both a thermally and visually con-
nective relationship. A solar space generally con-
sists of low-E and heat mirror glazing perpendicu-
lar to true south, often sloped to 57 degrees, at 40
degrees latitude, for greatest efficiency. Often,
passive solar spaces are flooded with sunlight for
thermal gain while creating extreme glare and vi-
sual discomfort. There are many methods to filter
this flooded light into useful lighting for specific
spaces, thus capturing the richness of the hearth.
Some specific means for integrating solar energy
for both light and heat gain include layering spaces
with membranes of varying depths. Certain mem-
branes can become screening systems as well as
movable devices and diffusers.
Trombe walls are the most specific example
of layering membranes to collect heat while allow-
ing little light to pass through. They consist of a
glazing membrane 2" to 8" in front of a mass wall.
Some openings for light can be articulated, yet this
system is effective only if very little infiltrated light
is desired. A more versatile form of space layering
through wall membranes consists of using mass
walls and filtering interior or exterior membranes
in conjunction with the glazing. This provides a
sunspace that can be utilized as circulation space,
a vestibule, bathroom, sitting room, or greenhouse.
Openings in the mass walls or membranes infil-
trate light to spaces beyond in all arrangement of
Passive Solar Techniques for Quality Light
Mass Walls behind southglazing opens up possibilities for
filtering light effectively as well as absorbing heat.
intensities. More openings can be patterned to-
wards the east and west directions, leaving the
direct southern sunlight to be absorbed by the
mass. If thermal storage occurs elsewhere, as in
a floor, interior filters such as plant arcades can be
used as a softer method for achieving similar
Solar glazing membranes can also function
as screening systems. This can be achieved by
using a low emissivity (Low-E) glass, or by varying
the levels of translucency. An example in which
translucency was manipulated successfully is at
the Denver Downtown post office designed by the
architecture firm of Hoover, Berg, and Desmond.
The glass is manufactured in grided transparent

and translucent inch squares, filtering the harsh
western light. This glazing idea can be applied to
a southern exposure. Some thermal potential will
be lost as filtered light is gained, a balance be-
tween desired light and heat-gain needs to be de-
termined for each particular application.
Solar heat gain spaces are often coupled
with other screening layers in order to prevent heat
loss at night or flooded day light. Movable insula-
tion, whether rigid panel or quilted canvas, is a
simple yet effective system. On the other end of
the technological spectrum are devices that sense
and move mechanically with the sun angles. These
insulation systems can easily be modulated by
hand or regulated by mechanical and electronic
sensor devices. More important than which sys-
tem along the technological spectrum is most ap-
plicable, is that both movable insulation and sen-
sory sun tracking devices are integral systems to
the architecture and experience of the space.
When they are superimposed or retroactively ap-
plied, as a solar house that ignores light filtration,
they are less likely to become systems that not
only utilize solar energy but enhance the space.

Artificial Sourced
Artificial lighting has the necessary potential for
becoming recursive with the built environment as
well as with the patterns of sunlight. Forms of the
building taking in daylight can reoccur in the smaller
scale lighting fixtures and artificial system. De-
signing artificial lighting systems in cadence with
architecture and the sun as a natural source is cru-
cial for providing enriched experience and connec-
Resorting to the catalogs may be helpful in
finding fixtures to incorporate into a lighting
scheme, but using these fixtures as independent
attachments deadens the space. Lighting design-
ers who integrate unique lighting systems with in-
direct and task lighting provide a space with con-
trast and form enlivening the architecture. Lights
designed for the space add a sense of craft and
identity worth the little extra cost.
Artificial lights are technologically sophisti-
cated enough to sense the changing intensity,
angles, and distance of the sun in order to interact
with available daylight. This does not discount
candle light as a healthful indoor lighting system
which at times is most preferable. It is important
to design these systems in ways that benefit the
relationships between artificial and sourced day-
light, so in turn, they enhance the experience and
meaning of how a space is lit.
To use an example, at the National Renew-
able Energy Headquarters outside of Golden
Colorado, artificial up-lighting responds to and is
______Artificial and Photovoltaic systems
associated with daylighting through its location and
direction relative to source and intensity. The same
lightshelves that refract daylight deeply into the
space, also contain the artificial lights. These
lightshelves step back into the hill creating the

primary scheme of the building. This system pro-
vides daylight for 90% of the office space.9 The
artificial light source is on the inside top of these
lightshelves, almost appearing as if it where sun
related. Though fully aware of the day to night
change, the transitions are incremental and asso-
ciated with the earth and sun cycle. Another layer
to this association occurs when these artificial lights
are powered by photovoltaics.
Photovoltaics were developed in the United
States with the invention of the silicon solar cell in
the early 1950s.10 The technology did not ad-
vance, however, until the 1973 oil and energy
shock. In the 1990s photovoltaic technology has
advanced largely through the development of the
National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL).
NREL contracted and programmed 25 million dol-
lars of photovoltaic research and development in
1993.11 NREL claims photovoltaic as one of the
most promising renewable energy technologies.
"Photovoltaic powered buildings are a
first glimpse into the coming new era of
energy producing buildings where this
elegant, life affirming technology will
become an integral part of the built
environment"12 (Strong)
Photovoltaic integrated technologies
provide electricity for sun-sensors and artificial light-
ing systems. Photovoltaics (pv) are produced as
a network of interconnected cells made of semi-
conducting materials in which photons knock elec-
trons loose from their atoms, allowing electrons to
flow through the semiconducting material to
produce electricity.13 Photovoltaic power is an ideal
and cost effective energy source for electrical re-
quirements that are relatively small and needed in
isolated areas, or for larger facilities that have con-
sistent solar exposure.
For example, a beautifully integrated pho-
tovoltaic panel exists as part of the south gable
end on a workshop near Cloverdale Mine in the
Colorado portion of the Sangre de Cristo Moun-
tains. It is greatly cost effective for the care taker
of this property to utilize the electricity collected
from these panels as opposed to trying to wire elec-
tricity up to this 12,000 foot high location. I just
store the electricity in the six batteries and every
so often carry a recharged on into the kitchen when
I need it.. says the owner and installer of the pv
system. He says the cells are eight years old and
have two more years left under warranty. What
makes this particular panel so well integrated with
the workshop is his hand-crafted and mounted
frame and the way the photocells have faded to
the same golden brown hue as the wood siding.

The potential advantages of photovoltaic
technology lie in the photovoltaic cells manufac-
tured as integral building materials. These cur-
rently can take the form of asphalt or tile shingles,
roof membranes that also act as a water sealer, or
serve as weathering skin of spandrel glass. Solar
Shingle pv roofing is currently manufactured by
United Solar Systems Corporation. This system
has a high efficiency rate for the amount of square
foot coverage. These photovoltaic shingles are
even more flexible for some roof shape applica-
tions. For larger scale commercial projects, the
most recent technology incorporates pv cells in
spandrel glass virtually indistinguishable from
spandrel glass used in skyscrapers. The technol-
ogy is close to having pv cells in regular see-
through glazing.14 The one distinction is that people
working in the building know their glass tower is
producing electricity. There has been studies done
at the Photovoltaic Manufacturing Facility in
Fairfield California which uses integrated pv aw-
nings and spandrel glass to operate their robotic
production line.15 Studies of the employees oper-
ating this 70,000-square-foot building indicate
increased well-being in the way of decreased sick
days and mental illnesses. Some of this improve-
ment is attributed to the integrated lighting and
photovoltaic systems.
Besides being an integratable system which
uses completely renewable energy, people claim
the association they make from electricity to its
source as beneficial to their relationship to the build-
ing.16 Associating well integrated artificial lighting
as powered by the suns energy creates new
meaning and symbols. Sunny days begin to
suggest new implications. The association of elec-
tricity need not be a negative use of nonrenew-
able resources bound to stop flowing.
It may mean some adjustment to life-style
which responds to the natural cycles. We might
not be able to run the juicer tonight, those clouds
the last few days have blocked the flow says one
residential pv user. Although, when the electricity
flows to dry your hair or a load of clothes on a chilly
day, the association of the sun produced energy
to the daily and weekly experience is invariably

Sunlight connections
Lighting is a process that constantly
changes with the movement of the sun and hu-
man needs. Sunlight provides us with much
needed ultraviolet rays and solar radiation. Solar
and daylighting systems partially fufill this need.
The experience of ultraviolet light in healthful quan-
tities and qualities enriches interaction and day to
day participation in the built environment.
Specific lighting systems have potential to
fuse life into buildings by enhancing aesthetic ex-
perience with the built environment and forming
beneficial connections to the surrounding ecologi-
cal system. These systems of light and heat make
up one fundamental component of our built envi-
ronment. It is crucial to think of light in relation to
the material composition, water reflection, airflow
and space in the initial stages of the design. The
sun's patterns must be thought of in terms of all
patterns inherent to a place.
Buildings become more alive through
healthful systems that respond to specific patterns,
such as shading louvers that respond to photovol-
taic solar sensors,the sun angles, and the space
inside. They begin to create an integral self-sus-
taining system, a system that has potential to be-
come part of the highly ordered processes of the
broader ecological community. Lighting systems'
relationship to patterns of the sun connect to natu-
ral ecological systems in order to serve human
Light reaches our souls through buildings
that enliven the experience of our regenerative
interconnectiveness to ecological processes and

1 Sim Van der Ryn and Cowan, Ecological Design (Island Press Washington DC & Covelo CA, 1996) p.91.
2 Lisa Heschong, Thermal Delight in Architecture. (M.l.T. Press, Cambridge Massachusetts, 1979) p.71.
3 Heschong, Idea from preface.
4 Charles Moore, William Mitchell, William Turnbull, Poetics of Gardens, (M.l.T. Press, Cambridge Massachusetts,! 988) p.8.
5 Kostof, History of Architecture (Oxford University Press, 1985) p.71,73.
6 Stein & Reynolds, Mechanical & Electrical Equipment for Buildings 8th Edition, (John Wiley & Sons, New York 1992) p.193.
7 John P. Thorton, Principal PV Engineer, NREL, interview 2-22-96.
8 Richard Wurman, What Will Be Has Always Been: The Words of Louis I. Kahn. (Access Press and Rizzoli, New York)
9 Thorton, interview 2-22-96.
10 Steven Strong, Solar Design Assoc. Inc., Harvard, MA, Building Integrated Photovoltaics, April 1995.
11 Strong, April 1995.
12 Strong, April 1995, p.1.
13 Netscape: NREL, webmaster@ Solar Energy Research Facility 2-10-96.
14 Thorton, interview 2-22-96.
15 Michael Crosbie, Green Architecture: A guide to sustainable design. (Rockport Pub., Rockport Massachusetts, 1994) p.64.
16 Strong, April 1995.
All other drawings, sketches and photos by author unless otherwise noted.
The Sun Mural on p.83 was painted by Bonnie Waugh as the south wall of a solar laundromat in Pueblo, Colorado.
Detail Section at Clerestory of lightshelf / artificial lighting on p.87 by Ron Paden, HGF Architects, Pueblo, Colorado.
Photo of French Manufactured Shutter System on p.89 by Phillip Tabb.

Having read a vast amount of research,
case studies, examples and information, I now ask
how these studies got to where they are, in built
and hypothetical form, and how to continue the
process. Not all of these case studies, examples,
and projects have attained ecological connections
by means of the same method, nor do they form
ecological connections to the same degrees. The
following is a proposed method or set of guide-
lines that informs a process for designing ecologi-
cally connected buildings. These guidelines are
a synthesis of discoveries made through case stud-
ies, research, studios and design projects.
1. Investigate Existing Ecological Patterns. This
entails analysis of the site through detailed site
reconnaissance. Detailed mappings and empiri-
cal observation of topography, water movement,
vegetation, and site orientation are utilized to dis-
cover these patterns. Identify local materials and
soil consistency. Look for ground water and
areas of vegetation in order to identify microclimatic
wind and water patterns. Observe the suns move-
ment, direction, and intensity to determine the suns
pattern in relation to the site. Processes of the
ecological community, along with desired patterns
of the people that will utilize the building, need to
be investigated in relation to the patterns of the
site. This is a specific way of analyzing context
and program in order to apply it to the design. Out
of this investigation, processes, or that which could
be considered as verbs, should emerge.
5 Steps for an Ecologically Connected Architecture
2. Allow framework of Patterns to Guide Design.
Allow the patterns which emerge out of the eco-
logical system and community formulate the frame-
work for the project. This framework of patterns
guides the development of the design process. For
example, the way in which the elements circulate,
regenerate, or embrace the site, serve as the un-
derlying framework for the design. This framework
guides the initial formations of space and building
orientation, yet acts as a more liberating than
restricting force. It also can determine the way the
sheets of paper are laid out and which medias to
use for the project. This step sets up a framework
for developing relationships between building
spaces and systems to that of the ecological
system. This initial framework can be thought of
as the origin or seed of the project.
A> 3. Develop Spaces and Systems in Plan, Section,
Elevation, Site, and Detail as a continuum of the
framework. Develop specific spaces and systems
of the design at varying scales of plan, section,
elevation, site, and detail. This entails a process
that moves in a spiral. For example, one and a
half sheets of paper may express one loop of the
spiral. This sheet of paper must have one or more
planar, sectional, elevational, perspectival, site and
detail relationships and any other modes neces-
sary to articulate that layer. Each loop is devel-
oped out of the previous generation, becoming
more articulate as a series of spaces and systems
that provide feedback for the next generation of
drawings and design development. The origin or

initial patterns for the project are not forgotten.
Buildings spaces and systems are essentially de-
veloped out of the ecological patterns, and there-
fore are connected and often powered by the eco-
logical system.
4. Discern specific spaces, systems, materials, and
forms to manifest as the building. Choose appro-
priate building systems, materials, and spaces that
enhance experience by developing the building
from the ecological framework. Sources for mate-
rials and systems are recognized as emerging out
of the ecosystem. Design decisions are made with
an ecological awareness. This leads to a mean-
ingful process for building an environment that com-
municates to the inhabitants through its origins in
ecological patterns. Human and all other natural
processes are synthesized into ecological patterns
in order to manifest a built system.
5. Synthesize and Regenerate. The previous four
phases are synthesized into a final form. (This
can be thought of as the working drawing phase of
the design process.) At this point, the materials
chosen to form the space, and the water, air, light-
ing and heating systems act together as a network
of elements. The building becomes a system in
itself. Most importantly, the building as a system,
becomes an extension of the ecological system.
In this synthesis and beginning phase of
manifesting the building, some aspect of the envi-
ronment begins to decay, die, or is destroyed. This
usually consists of the land it will occupy, wildlife it
will replace, or previous infrastructure that needs
to be demolished. As a result, some aspect of the
building should be developed to give back (or re-
generate) the surrounding ecological community.
This regeneration could be in the form of a facility
that provides a resource or an energy (wind, wa-
ter, or solar) for the community. As an aspect of
the environment dies or is taken away, a new
project utilizing these processes adds to the eco-
logical system. This generation of building then
becomes part of the next ecological pattern to be
3 Earth
& Air and Wind
4> Fire / Sunlight
Either / Spirit
These five geometric solids have been chosen to
symbolize each elements qualities. The cube rep-
resents earth. The icosahedron represents water.
The octahedron represents air. The tetrahedron
represents fire and light. The dodecahedron is the
culmination of the previous four and represents
either or spirit. These Platonic solids are from
Platos Timaeus and ancient Greek philosophy.

Buildings move towards living processes
when they are designed more as verbs or actions
rather than as nouns or objects. Living buildings
are not objects with attached systems, but rather
systems or networks of processes and spatial re-
lationships. Designing buildings that respond to,
connect with and emerge out of human patterns of
consciousness in relation to ecological patterns
may foster a greater interactive, enriched, self-sus-
taining architecture, a living architecture. Each of
the human and ecological patterns explored
throughout this study could be utilized for design-
ing buildings more as verbs and places of action.
They allow verbs to guide and inform the design.
The building at all scales responds to and
is informed by interactive patterns of humans and
the ecological community. Buildings play an
integral role in human and ecological processes,
therefore becoming manifestations of these pro-
cesses. They are not stagnant objects, frozen at
the end of construction, but fluid elements over time
and through space. For example, how water and
air circulate through the building, how people cir-
culate through the spaces, how spaces and com-
ponents circulate through each other could be the
driving force guiding the design process. This can
create a coherent building that acts as an operat-
ing system for human experience. The idea of
buildings having life is intimately tied to and
dependent on human life.
Buildings have physical living characteris-
tics. Their walls and spaces breathe, their win-
dows and openings aperture light, and their venti-
lation and water systems circulate. The way health-
ful environmental systems function and physically
interact with people and the ecosystem are similar
to living processes and functions. Buildings that
integrate these systems in the initial stages of de-
sign have the chance to become living components
of the building. They are the arms, senses, and
organs of the building. Retroactively compensat-
ing for systems not introduced in the design pro-
cess decreases the potential richness and ability
of the building to connect to the ecological com-
munity. People will not gain the same advantages
that a environmentally responsive process can
achieve. Design such as the structures at Arcosanti
which integrates passive solar, water collection,
and ventilation systems as part of the spatial and
formal qualities of space can be of great benefit to
physical and mental health. Peoples experience
of the built environment is enhanced through
connections to ecological processes.
These systems also make connections be-
tween the physical functioning of the building and
the ecosystem. They utilize the four basic elements
and resources of the ecosystem directly, tuning into
ecological cycles in order to take advantage of their
distinct qualities for human experience. Connec-
tions or links between built systems and ecosys-
tems begin to interweave living processes with
building processes. They are not one and the same

indistinct entity, rather, they speak the languages
of both processes as interconnective. Buildings
are integrated with the living processes or cycles
over time.
"Imagine the natural world and the hu-
manly designed world bound together
in intersecting layers, ...We need to ac-
quire the skills to effectively interweave
humans and natural design." 1
(Van Der Ryn)
We need links between these living pro-
cesses that interweave people with natural sys-
tems. Passive solar or photovoltaic systems act
as technologies that are integral to buildings and
the cycles of the sun. The walls and roofs become
energy transforming membranes intimately depen-
dent and responsive to the diurnal and seasonal
changes of sun, earth surface and vegetation.
These systems interconnect human processes with
ecological processes.
Buildings have life cycles. They can either
be designed to take advantage of a cyclical pro-
cess through materials and embodied energies
which are geared to last for the life of the building
and be reused or in some form recovered at the
end of its life cycle. The building in some way gives
back to the ecological community. The other ex-
treme is buildings that are designed to operate in
a linear process which fulfills immediate economi-
cal and human needs before it is defunct and can
not be used for any other purpose. A living
architecture thrives on the former. This entails de-
signing for cyclical patterns of use. This means
buildings are designed to function as part of eco-
logical patterns like the seasonal changes of veg-
etation and human patterns like the transforma-
tion of workspace. Building becomes part of the
living process by designing for its life cycle.
Granted, this can never be fully predicted or
planned for with complete precision. However,
architecture can be designed to be more or less
permanent through material use, embodied energy
and methods of construction. This depends on
human needs and ecological resources. These
material and methods may change use or be
recovered towards the end of the buildings first or
second life cycle.
Basically, a cycle can be thought of as a
series of transformations. Building which embod-
ies great amounts of energy, an office building
with PV panels acting as its skin for example, must
be designed for a longer life span in order to fully
utilize the embodied energy. The savings of fossil
fuels and oil over its life cycle must outweigh the
embodied energy cost of photovoltaic buildings.
Paramount to buildings with longer life span
is the need to sensitively design for human pat-
terns. If the building is efficient and responsive by
allowing people to open windows or feel a part of
their environment and allow for transformation of
office space to whatever else may be needed, the
building will not become defunct before its embod-
ied energy has a chance to be utilized.

"It follows that for all built environ
ments there is a continuously changing
and dynamic state of interaction between
people and built systems; between built
systems and their infrastructures and
the ecosystem of the project site; and be-
tween these ecosystems and other eco-
systems in the biosphere. 2 (Yeang)
These systems at various scales are inter-
dependent. They all connect to each others cycles,
yet there is a vast diversity of components that
make up these intricate systems. These systems
exist at the scale of a pond water sample, a com-
plex of buildings, or a mountain valley ecosystem.
They are more than just the addition of individual
components. Systems become interactive com-
ponents that are greater than the sum of their parts.
Whole systems, made up of components, spaces
and organisms interaction, begin to take on re-
generative and creative life processes. When build-
ings are not designed as independent objects
separate from site and surroundings, they are
integral members of the community. This does not
negate their uniqueness, rather it promotes it.
Buildings become components of greater systems
when spaces in-between are designed and con-
nections are made through negative space. Finally,
whole systems are greater than the sum of its parts
when the parts or building systems interact with
ecosystem. They may be off-grid of not hooked
up to the power plant, but they are connected on a
deeper, more cyclical level with the resources of
the system.
An example of a system
with complex relation-
ships that are recursive
throughout scales is a
gothic cathedral, espe-
cially when it adapts to
the ecological fabric of a
modern city. This tower
consists of office spaces.
The tower is recursive
with this light detail.
They share similar
relationships at various
" It (the universe) is a place full of order
and creation, fidl of generative processes
that bring life, innovation, and thought
out of the simplest cosmic starting
points. The slowly accumidating pat-
terns of relation that build up in star
systems and galaxies also build up in
organic molecules, cells, organisms, so-
cieties, and ecosystems." 3 (Oates)

Such systems become self-sustaining or
self-regulating. They begin to function in ways that
respond to larger surrounding ecosystems and
human interactions. The meaning and idea of a
self-sustaining or self-regulating system is taken
to all levels of complication. It is used here in a
basic form in relation to building design and sys-
tems. 4 Self-sustaining systems are programmed
to be resilient to ecological forces and changes
throughout the seasons and over the yearly
changes and trends. A vacation home, for ex-
ample, could become a technologically self-sus-
taining system with louvers and sun sensors that
respond to sun angles, wind and ventilation alter-
natives and seasonal changes. The home could
reach and maintain temperatures beneficial to the
human body and could provide an exchange of
fresh air through passive ventilation and materi-
als. People could be comfortable upon arrival with-
out having heaters or air conditioners operating
within the occupied space. Self-sustaining sys-
tems have many diverse components that oper-
ate and respond to conditions and adapt overtime.
Sim Van der Ryn uses the term self-designing
"... instead of employing vast amounts
of energy, materials, and centralized in-
telligence to control systems, it may be
easier to encourage their own self-de-
signing tendencies." 5 (Van Der Ryn)
He goes on to explain the meaning of self-
designing systems as seeded with sufficient
diversity, they can design their own solutions to
the problems that emerge. Designing for self-sus-
taining systems, entrusting their capacities to
sustain and perpetuate themselves, may be a way
of working constructively with complexity as a de-
sign method for treating buildings more as living
How do buildings obtain the opportunity to
become self-sustaining systems? As the case stud-
ies throughout this study have attempted to dem-
onstrate, seeking ecological and human patterns
that inform design is fundamental to linking into
existing ecological patterns. Once a building be-
comes an integral factor in the existing patterns,
it becomes a connected yet independently func-
tioning part of the ecosystem. Through this pro-
cess, the building may gain the ability to sustain
itself in surprising and often unpredictable ways.
Once a system links into ecological processes, new
qualities or connections may emerge. One pat-
tern to examine that could assist a building in be-
coming a self-sustaining system is the sites pro-
pensity to collect and disperse, water or snow,
wildlife, or vegetation. By collecting and dispers-
ing resource materials, a building may develop ten-
dencies to self-regulate water processes, cycles,
and connections throughout the building. The
buildings future additions become apparent based
on these patterns. Buildings become a creative,
self-sustaining part of the living processes which
often develop surprising results.

"Life is continually introducing genu-
ine novelty into the universe. First, life
itself, a qualitative change from non life.
Then, ever more complicated organisms
and system of organisms. Then (of all
things) consciousness. Where as Des-
ecrates had confidently asserted that an
effect cannot exceed its cause, living
things continually do exactly that, pro-
ducing surprise upon surprise in a pro-
cess that gains momentum instead of
losing it." 6 (Oates)
Buildings that act as self-sustaining systems
gain consciousness that is intertwined with human
consciousness and perception. Building and ma-
terial consciousness may seem like a radical idea.
Yet when our buildings and environments are de-
signed and dealt with as responsive, connective,
and interactive with human life, it may not seem
so farfetched. Building consciousness is not on
the level of self-awareness but rather a conscious-
ness that self-regulates by processing information,
responding and adapting to surrounding stimulants.
A wall system mindfully acts and reacts in response
to outside air temperatures and winds, for example.
Its method of construction, whether it be out of tem-
pering materials like adobe or stone or breathing
materials such as wood, is determined by the ma-
terials, topography and air flow of the site. If a site
is hot and arid, it needs slower tempering materi-
als in order to absorb heat during the day, keeping
the inside space cool and releasing the stored heat
through the night. Certain levels of consciousness
occur when walls temper air and building spaces
breathe. It may even be thought of as a subcon-
Building consciousness is intimately tied to
human consciousness, awareness, and percep-
tion. When the building enables and even partici-
pates in creating an awareness of the elemental
sources of sunlight, air, water, and earth, then they
become truly integral to human and global con-
sciousness. Buildings participate in creating
awareness of elemental sources and ecological
patterns through responsive and adaptive forms,
spaces, and interactively healthful environmental
systems. Building becomes an enlivening phenom-
enon between human experience and the ecologi-
cal patterns of the elemental sources. The case
studies throughout the healthful environmental
system sections provide examples of how aware-
ness of ecological patterns produced by earth /
material, water, air and wind, and light / fire can be
achieved. Our consciousness is no longer sepa-
rated from our surroundings but interdependent on
the environment.
"The unfolding of human consciousness
cannot be separated from the unfolding
of the total environment in which it finds
expression." 7 (Findhorn Community)
A living architecture is intimately tied to
human life. We attempts to create a diverse, adapt-
able and enriching relationship between people and
the ecological community through buildings that
are more life like. It emerges out of human expe-
rience in and through space that is architecturally

integrated with the ecosystem. Buildings without
people are not alive. They may become self-sus-
taining or regulating in their relationships to eco-
logical processes, but the way in which they re-
spond and interact with the cycles of sun, topo-
graphical conditions of the land or the runoff and
absorption of water will only provide the propen-
sity for an enlivened architecture. Building life
emerges out of the relationship between the per-
son or people, and their built environments. When
this relationship provides connection, awareness,
and experience of the surrounding ecological sys-
tem, then buildings have a better chance at being
enlivening. Architecture moves towards a living
process when it responds to the patterns of earth,
water, air and sunlight connecting us to these
sources in order to enrich experience.
Buildings and places provide people with
one means for spiritual experience. They become
important to human culture and expression. The
importance for places and buildings to strive for
spirit increases as our built environment becomes
more and more about economics and machine
technology. Building forms and spaces that are
increasingly designed for and with the computer
and machine lack connections to human and natu-
ral patterns. With the increase in this mentality
(not necessarily mode) of construction, buildings
and places that do elicit spiritual experience be-
come more and more valuable. They gain a cer-
tain timelessness in the sense of being out of the
linear conception of time and rather part of the past
and future through the present. Forms and spaces
which are spiritually alive need not necessarily be
organic or mimic nature, as can be seen in many
traditional as well as recent examples. In fact,
wholly organic forms sometimes deny human pres-
ence and interaction with the ecosystem. Christo-
pher Day, author of Places of the Soul, says it best.
In our time, straight-line forms and
computer-calculable geometry are the
forms best suited to machine production.
Without the elements of cosmic prin-
ciple and careful craftsmanship, these are
forms which lack life. Wholly organic
forms which nature surrounds us with
on the other hand are forms which lack
any imprint of human consciousness.
Life-filled forms for human environment
must lie between these two extremes, as
does the human state." 9 (Day)
When buildings, forms and spaces are con-
structed between these two extremes, intercon-
necting humans with the ecological system, they
are effective in promoting physical, psychological,
and spiritual needs. These buildings promote hu-
man health and well-being. They do this by be-
coming part of human ecological living processes.
The building process is enlivened when the forms,
spaces, and systems are integral to human and
ecological patterns. They connect body, mind, and
spirit to the ecosystem and the cosmos. Buildings
that embody soul have a unique essence that will
live on through the minds and spirits of people.
Ultimately, living processes manifest through
buildings. Particular buildings in the community
may develop this relationship over time and space.
A building with soul is living, through the minds,

hearts, and experiences that people have had, are
having, and will continue to have through the life
of the building and human places.
Enriched experience of the architecture over
time may foster a spirit of the place. The intensity
of human involvement and experience in certain
spaces is heightened by the building. The degree
to which the architecture responds and connects
to ecological processes and provides for human
rituals and behavioral patterns can instill a sense
of spirit in the building and its site. An intangible
feeling and experience of the world beyond the eco-
logical cycle through the tangible design and rela-
tionship of built form can be attained. A deep con-
nection and awareness of ecological processes in
a specific place and building invokes a spiritual
reverence, whether its in a modernday Ecumeni-
cal Sanctuary, Taliesin West, or the Pantheon.
Buildings reflecting, and integral, to ecological pro-
cesses can elicit spiritual experience through physi-
cal or worldly forms and spatial relationships.
"What is important to our investigation
is the fact that, in all traditional cul-
tures, the habitation possesses a sacred
aspect by the simple fact that it reflects
the world."10 (Eliade)
Eliades claim is that the spiritual or supernatural
is apprehended through the natural aspects and
structures of the world. If the spiritual is reached
through the world, it would follow that building in-
tegration with ecological patterns does play a part
in fostering spiritual experiences through the ar-
chitecture and place. Certain buildings and places
become the means for attaining spiritual
Many cathedrals, synagogues, or places of
meditation serve as examples. One strong
example of a building providing spiritual experi-
ence exists between the Sangre de Cristo Moun-
tains and the San Luis Valley. A temple built in
response to the four cardinal directions, the hill-
side, and a site that elicits spirit through its transi-
tion from valley to mountain peaks. The temple
designed by Keith Critchlow is a hemisphere
formed by
twelve curving
gluelam beams,
each pair termi-
nating at a seat
for meditation,
prayer or re-
flection where
their intersec-
tion meets the
ground. Door
openings are to
the east and
west, which is
traditional for
many rituals,
and a sky door
or opening
defined at top by the tangents of each gluelam.
The oculus casts light providing a diurnal and sea-
sonal sundial much like the Pantheon. The space
is inconspicuous from the valley below and pow-
erful from inside. In this case, as in many ex-
amples that provide spiritual qualities, as much a
sense of grounding and enclosure as it is enlight-
ening and uplifting.11

Through time, these places embody soul.
They act in similar ways that nature does, as they
apprehend the spiritual through natural aspects of
the world. These buildings foster soul to a place
by providing the means for spiritual experiences.
Buildings and landscapes connect with the spirit
of the place gained over layers of time and experi-
ence. Through experiences in time and space,
buildings can become living processes that speak
to the soul. Architecture reaches a realm of the
living when it fosters these expressions and expe-
riences. It is not the only criterion for a living archi-
tecture, but it is a certain one. Architecture
becomes a journey towards the soul that lives and
breathes through the places, the bodies, and minds
of the people.
\ .