Where not to build.September 14, 2012
As noted by a sometimes visitor to this blog, the Navajo word for beauty is Hózhó. The reference reminded me of a studio project I did way back when I was in architecture school. As you can see from above, it does not contain a building. The course took place in a location about half way between Taos and Santa Fe called Ojo Caliente. It was a pretty amazing trip, not a little because we spent time traipsing across the desert with a Native American guide. Intellectually, the take away from the project had, of course, to do with the importance of harmony between man and the environment, but there was something more which I neither can, nor care to define except to say that it follows me still.
I was raised on a truck farm. Our neighbor grew Christmas trees for the local market. At some point he lost interest and the trees that were still in the field were left alone. Several, accidentally aligned in a semicircle, somehow grew together with large bows fanning out on the ground. In winter the snow piled up on the limbs and one could stand in the circle and experience silence. Eventually the place was sold. The new owner had three daughters with a doting grandfather/handyman. One day I passed my favorite copse to find that a club house, like an over sized dog house, was plunked exactly dead center. After that I never saw the children play there, mostly no one went near. So you see, I already knew that the most important thing to know about building is where not to build.