Monday, January 30, 2012


"In Japan, they ask how it will work in 20 or 30 years and say, "We want your best work." In China, they say, 'Don't get overinvested in the function. We want an icon,' and in the U.S. you work with one hand tied behind you back," Mayne said. "We are a country in doubt, questioning who we are at every level. These are not useful constructs when you are trying to promote innovation."

from Architectural Record 2011

Friday, January 20, 2012


Design Goals: Create a 30' x 30', 2 stall, 1 lift, auto repair shop on a country parcel in Mendocino County. Design style to match existing residence. (Also by Kumaran Design). Insulate well, provide radiant floors, take advantage of site re: gardens and southern orientation for passive solar gain. Owner builder. Budget modest. 

Time line: design - fall 2010,  permitting w/ variance for use permit - winter & spring 2011,
construction - summer & fall 2011.

Comfort note: through fall until yesterday, it has been mostly sunny. Despite cooling temperatures, into the 20's at night, low 50's in the day, the south wall, with a large array of windows, gathered the solar gain making the temperature in the shop 70 degrees! The passive solar design element works nicely. As noted above, the shop also has radiant floor heat. Hasn't needed to turn it on. 

Saturday, January 14, 2012

C&W / Cupertino - Passive Solar

Passive solar principles are very much designed into the C&W residence. This design is expected to achieve 65% of the heating and cooling loads required. Plus, the design distinctly intends to bring light + heat well into the basement. While orientation of the rectangular lot is off south ≈ 45°, the design compensates by placing large amounts of glass toward the south arcing around the corner to track the sun efficiently. Plus, distinctive spaces are created in the basement as a family room and on the main level as the living room. Refer to the floor plan shown on the web site to help visualize the curved rooms and the orientation. The photo below is taken about noon on January 13. Less than a month past the winter solstice. You begin to see how the light will shine nicely into the basement.

Thursday, January 12, 2012


I was trained in the most traditional way - apprenticeship, in the field, doing the work, with extraordinary master builder/architects. The traditions include Western building, Western art and sculptural building, Japanese traditional building and design. And, for a shorter period, traditional South Indian temple building & design. My apprenticeship in Japan with Ichikawa Kihei, master temple builder, was most extraordinary. I lived, worked, ate, breathed all that tradition and mastery that he shared with me, so joyfully, intently. I was his 76th apprentice - honorary, really - as my time with him was short by their standards. A remarkable experience, resonant to this day - Thank you Papasan!

Wednesday, January 4, 2012


From R.M. Schindler's "Modern Architecture: A Program",1913: 

"The modern dwelling will not freeze the contemporary whim of owner or designer into permanent tiresome features. It will be a quiet, flexible background for a harmonious life."