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Design Build Part 6: Purpose and Compassion



Custom concrete design
Concrete Architecture at Jin Zhu, Vasher Studio Home

I could have stopped right here. Right at the stage pictured here. There’s something so compelling about the fresh new concrete bones of a building. They seem to beg to be left as is – to hell with the framing! Seriously,  if I hadn’t promised my wife that she would eventually have a roof over her head, I could have stopped right here. No rooms, no shelter. Just a clean new slab on the land and some black concrete columns rising from the earth and tuned to the seasons. The columns themselves have solar alignments just as the structures at Stonehenge – an arguably significant architectural installation which perhaps never had a roof. Yet people have gathered there for centuries. So who am I to put a roof over this fresh new concrete of mine anyway?!? Maybe I could follow Yves Klein’s lead and engage in ‘air architecture’. Though north New Mexico winters don’t lend themselves to that idealism well – neither do the summers for that matter. All the same, I could have stopped right here.

 

It's been almost 15 years since I took this picture and I can remember the sense of accomplishment I felt that day just as vividly as I can remember the first time I had great sex. Much had been done to get to this stage, months of work. But there was something about unwrapping the columns and seeing them stand on the land for the first time that made the project of building our own home seem real, far more real than it had up to this point. A feeling that we were finally putting something down, literally rooting in this one little slice of high desert mountain heaven. I care about this site on the earth like I would a care for a child or a parent. So building on it meant that constructing something that looked like it belonged here and honored the opportunities of the site was of paramount importance – as it should be with everything we build on the earth. This building however was to be our home, our window to the world around us and a statement that living on the earth should be done with both purpose and compassion. Feeling a great sense of having done exactly that on the day I snapped this picture, I distinctly remember feeling that I could have stopped right here.

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