Site Repair

There are hundreds of "patterns" in Chris's research into what makes a built space beautiful and comfortable, what makes it have the Quality Without a Name. Devotees of his work who have toured our place spot them and even call out their numbers in A Pattern Language.

Construction begins with a basic one: Pattern 104 Site Repair.

The topography of our land is best described as "rumpled carpet." There are 10 acres and almost none of it is flat, a place where you could make a garden or play bocce or sit at tables on the grass to have lunch.

The "repair" made for some tricky foundation-designing by Gary Black, Chris's right-hand man, an engineer as well as an architect whose motto is "A building built by only architects will fall down; a building built by only engineers will be torn down." One of Chris's best moves was involving Gary at every step of the process here. 33 years on, the house has neither fallen down nor been torn down.

The "face" of the house edges on the flat and the back is hung over the side of a rumple in that earthen carpet, preserving a precious flat area in front of the building, on the side that faces west, to the sea. You can see an edge of it on the left of this photo of the forms being placed for the great concrete pour.

Yes, this made construction more expensive than it would have been to plop a house on the flat. And it made all the difference in how livable the place is. We have a garden. Bocce games. And lunches on the grass.