Thursday, December 18, 2014

The Architecture of Light-Shadow

Architecture comes alive in light. Morning rays awaken roofs and walls. They flow through windows, stirring interior spaces to life. Glowing surfaces reveal the shapes and spaces of every detail from countertops to cornices. Each design choice selects an inflection of light. Every choice of light is a choice of shadow. Without shadow, light cannot be perceived. Gradations of light and shadow reveal a dome's arc, the zig-zag rise of a staircase and the billows of a down comforter. The term light-shadow, or shadow-light, more accurately describes the experience of illumination.

Moving through the day, the radiance of light-shadow provides ever-shifting wonder. Wherever I am, I can savor the magical nuances of shadow-light as it dances across the surfaces of the world. At the darkest times, I can dwell in the light.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

The Architecture of Tangible Support


Architecture is support embodied. Floors, chairs and tables provide stable settings to uphold the details of our lives. They offer their support equally to all. It doesn't matter if you're having a great day or a crappy one, if you're a saint or a sinner, a park bench provides you with a place to rest, talk with a friend, read a book or enjoy the scenery. Look around and you will see architecture's support everywhere—the stair treads that lift you from one floor to another, the road that winds over the mountain, the bridge that carries you across a river, the cooktop that supports your simmering soup, the bed that receives your rest. Behind each of these objects are the supportive intentions and actions of those who created them. So, when you're looking for a little support, you can find it right under your feet or close at hand in architecture.

Friday, December 12, 2014

Hidden Energy

When most people look at Antonio Gaudi's architecture they see undulating structures. I see energy. To me, the fluid shapes of his walls and windows, columns and railings reveal the forces animating the forms. As I photographed the roof ridge in the photo, I sensed it writhing like the spine of an immense dragon. When I visited other Gaudi sites, I found the dragon there too, rippling through the designs. Encountering the old master's work in this way transformed the way I see architecture. Instead of static masses, "frozen music" as Goethe put it, I see vessels that coax energy from the earth and sky and guide it into flowing streams of shelter and support. Buildings don't have to look like Gaudi's to transmit life-giving energy. Any outer style can come alive when designed with heart. Life can be breathed into any bit of matter to become a living being that inspires those who dwell within it.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Wonder

 
I love the ways architecture evokes wonder. A vision stirs the soul. Mind plans how to translate that vision into tangible form. Body locates the land and gathers the materials. Piece by piece the vision is constructed. Then WOW, weighty matter rises and swoops through space. The gravity of doubt and fear falls away and our imaginations soar. Beauty floods our senses and we experience what is possible when we open to wonder.

Sunday, June 29, 2014

The First Supper


After 8 days of a cleansing fast and a day of diluted orange juice, I prepare vegetable broth for my first meal. The green liquid in a red bowl offers the colors of a summertime Christmas. Raising the bowl to my lips, every cell in my body seems to surge forth to devour the gift of flowing nourishment. One sip fills me with flavor and gratitude. This primal act is holy without reasons or definitions, without gods or sages. It is Life consuming itself to continue. It is my body opening to receive the offerings of the earth from
which it came.

How many countless bites of food and sips of liquid have I taken, not really aware of this miracle? In how many immeasurable ways does life nourish me moment by moment as I fret about how I will survive and worry about whether I am loved? Those unconscious moments and groundless fears seem laughable during this sacred First Supper.

During the 8 day fast, my mind and body became wonderfully still and clear. The world became vividly vibrant and beautiful. The whirlwind of activity and striving outside my door seemed more mysterious than ever. All the hurry and hustle looked like it was preparing for a feast that already existed. We only needed to stop, see it and drink it in.

You and I have heard this all before. Yet, in the sweep of living we forget, again and again. I'm thankful I had the time and means to step back for a while and let my mind and body rest in stillness. Hopefully, the experience sunk deeper into my bones than before and I will delight more fully in each morsel of food and each gulp of liquid. Enjoy you next meal. Bon Apetit!

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Creating a Kitchen for Your Soul


Your kitchen is calling. It's inviting you to engage the magic of transformation by taking the gifts of the earth and cooking them into meals that nourish the depths of your being. To make a kitchen for your soul, you don't need an expensive remodel. You don't need new cabinets or industrial strength appliances. All you need is to open your senses to the act of preparing food and the willingness to appreciate the simple miracle being created in the act.
It only takes a moment to shift your kitchen from a storage room for snacks into a place of soulful alchemy. Instead of unconsciously stumbling into your kitchen and grabbing something from the frig, plopping it on a plate and stuffing it in your mouth, try this. Stop, look at where you are and sense the possibilities. The stove is offering fire. The sink is providing water, the refrigerator and cupboards are filled with earthy bounty from the world's garden. All that's needed is for you to feel the desire in your belly and allow it to guide you in creating a meal. As you open the doors of the frig or cabinet to select the vegetables, grains and other items, savor the colors, shapes and design of the food. Imagine the fields and orchards they came from and the natural processes of weather and soil that produced them. As you slice and combine the ingredients, notice how your participation transforms the raw materials of nature and sense your consciousness as an ingredient being blended into the mix. When you place the mixture on the stove or in the oven, feel the power of fire to release the flavors from within the food. 
When the meal is cooked, serve it and eat it with the same attention you put into the preparation. Appreciate the colors and aroma of the food. Enjoy the shapes and materials of the plates and eating utensils. Actually taste what you are tasting. Feel the nourishment of what your are swallowing. Breathe and notice how easy it was to create a kitchen for your soul.
If you do want to remodel your existing kitchen or are planning one for a new home, use the experience I described above as the basis for creating  a soulful place to cook.  See your kitchen as a place where the elements of fire, water, earth and air interact to produce meals that nourish both body and soul. Choose a range that evokes the experience of  primal fire. Select a sink and faucet that honors the fluid, transforming qualities of water. Find cabinets that celebrate the foods you will store in them. Create a kitchen that inspires you to explore creative possibilities, one that says to you, "Let's cook!"

Learn more about creating a home for your soul by clicking here.

Monday, November 18, 2013

How Home Inspires Your Life Journey

One of the most important ways you can enrich the soulfulness of your home is to make it a place that honors the process of living. I came across a beautiful example of this at an apartment building in Santa Rosa, California. Next to the entrance, a series of murals lovingly depicts the passage from newborn infant to aged death. Images such as this offer poignant reminders that moving from one stage of life another is natural. What seems like a loss at a given moment can become a gain at the next. Furthermore, these murals show us that we are not alone in our day-to-day challenges and triumphs. Everyone inhabiting this apartment building goes through them and these shared experiences make us all members of the human family.

 

Saturday, November 16, 2013

The Importance of a Home for Your Soul

Home is more than a sheltering roof and embracing walls. It goes beyond style that’s cozy or cool. Yet, each day, homes are boxed and sold as square footage, curb appeal and resale value. Certainly, these are smart and practical considerations, but what’s vitally important gets lost in the bargain. Moreover, the beautiful images on architecture websites and television shows overlook the most essential element in creating a home—your soul. If the core of your being isn’t welcomed where you rest your head, you will never feel at home. Not feeling at home, your body and possessions may have an address but the one who experiences those things, you, will be left with a subtle, nagging sense of being homeless.
Because most architecture ignores the soul, few people know how to provide for it. At best, attempts are made to address the soul by providing inspiring spaces. What is not understood is how the floors, walls, roofs, furnishings and other elements of a house can be designed to nurture and delight the elusive qualities of the soul.

To create a home for the soul, we have to experience what the soul is. There are many descriptions of soul. Here is mine. Soul is sensed in the force that animates our thoughts, words and actions. It is the wisdom that shapes this animating force into patterns of experience. In the depths of our being, soul is still and boundless. On the surface, it flows in a countless variety of emotions and thoughts. Despite its elusive nature, soul has specific qualities we can understand and sense. 

Genuineness, depth and connectedness characterize soulful experience. In Care of the Soul, Thomas Moore writes: “soulfulness is tied to the particulars of life—good food, satisfying conversation, genuine friends, and experiences that touch the heart.” Soul is nourished by variety, quirks and idiosyncrasies. It is the glue that links mind to body, body to home and home to Earth. It yokes the rooms of a home to the events that take place within them. The shared, universal qualities of soul become meaningful when they flow into the personal characteristics that define your individuality. 

Soul is not necessarily linked to religion. A person may access soul through the prayers, rituals and scriptures of her faith; but she can also encounter soul in a flavorful stew, the caress of a lover, and the textures of a pine floor. A chapel within a vast cathedral may be a shrine of spiritual peace, but a window seat in a living room can offer a haven of quiet renewal.
A home that nurtures and delights your soul cannot be described in a checklist of attributes. It is the result of consciously designing rooms and selecting furnishings to enliven the qualities of soul that are personal to you and your family. The forms, textures, colors and qualities of light and space that nourish you indicate your individual characteristics of soul. Your memories of meaningful places, images of homes that visit you in dreams and enriching travel locations point toward the images of soul to incorporate in the design. The foods you love, the films that move you and the art that delights you also hold keys to the qualities of a home that will care for your soul. Specific ways of translating your personal qualities of soul into the design of rooms and furnishings will be discussed in later blog posts.

When you incorporate these personal qualities of soul into your house or apartment the core of your being is nourished. The totality of who you are is cared for and welcomed. Life becomes more poetic and artful, more meaningful and alive. Your house finally is your home.

Learn more about creating a home for your soul by clicking here.


Thursday, November 7, 2013

Why I Practice Architecture


I practice architecture to explore the ways designed places nurture and inspire human experience. I believe that good buildings go beyond efficient function and beautiful style to frame the elusive mystery of dwelling in this world. Toward this end, architecture, from its overall plan to each detail, becomes an opportunity to re-imagine the meeting points between people and their surroundings, between the human spirit and the earth. Doorways become places to foster the significance of threshold crossing. Passageways offer ways to discover the possibilities of movement through space and time. Rooms establish settings for making one’s place in the world and unfolding creative ways of living.

I practice architecture to find more ecological means of dwelling. As each design choice can foster more significant psychological meaning, it can also become a way to attune human life to nature’s processes of growth and renewal. In this way, architecture can be a vehicle for seeing through preconceptions and limited viewpoints to discover innovative solutions to pressing environmental problems.

I practice architecture to collaborate with others and explore creative possibilities that we could not invent alone. For me, design is a dialogue between all the individuals and forces shaping a given building. To gather with others and see what arises in the space between us is an enriching and inspiring process.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Awe: Some Thoughts

I think the main thing is to differentiate between having an awesome framework that is constructed by our minds and the awe that is beyond our mental frameworks and comes from the raw experience of living. When awe comes from reinforcing a preconceived idea it builds our false sense of control and the belief that the world fits neatly into our box. Awe from raw experience is another thing all together and can blow apart any sense that we know what is going on. The question is, are we looking for the comfort of proving what we already believe or are we looking to experience life as it is beyond our preconceptions. One thing life keeps showing me is that it is not what I think it is, that my mental frameworks are temporary life rafts that are swept away by the raw currents of existence.