In spring of 1989, though happily working as an urban designer with a highly professional bunch at ZGF Architects, I needed a creative escape from the urban world of people, steel, concrete, cars, busses and trains. For mental health, I mused over organic shapes in ink on a blank white sheet of poster board and watched a hillside house emerge with eyelash awnings beneath a teflon coated fiberglass fabric hat.
Buildings should rise "out of the ground and into the light" for more than just survival, curb appeal, status, and ornament. THey should go beyond the limits of habit, style and technology to host beneficial plants, animals and insects for a fuller balance of life. They should let Nature regain a foothold in our day to day, because the closer we live with plants and animals, the easier it is to feel natural and follow creative instincts in all we do. Their walls and roofs should serve less as barriers and be more as the supportive bone, marrow and tendon for plants to grow to their greatest density and diversity.
Let trees become an old-growth forest that hosts a complexity of life. Divert rainwater a hundred useful ways before a drop reaches the stream. Value topsoil at a price greater than gold, and leave no dirt uncovered by green, so streams, and rivers run clear for salmon and trout. Sponge the rain to carry all life through dry spells. Compost human and animal waste for its safe return to gardens and fields. Intentionally create nesting spaces for swallows, swifts and other bird life, and let bigger critters hang out on the roof.
In the 1980's, many years before the US Green Building Council, LEED and the Living Building Challenge, only outliers seemed interested in "sustainability." The closest thing to "green" buildings were earth-integrated structures, but they were mostly awkward, utilitarian or experimental in design. Limited in means, methods and knowledge to do much more than draw, I evoked the feelings of a future I wanted to live in - a place with lots of plants and animals working out life together; a place for soaking up rather than shaking off life.