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Does spiritual design sacrifice function?

Advocating for the diversification of buildings, biomes, and businesses to establish sustainable legacies.

✔ Why a spiritual perspective leads to powerful building design.

✔ I visited a community in a tropical paradise— one key element was missing.

How to choose the right eco-alternative building method for you.

SPIRIT: An underrated aspect of place-making

Some of the greatest architecture I've seen in my travels has been in buildings of worship. Many churches, often the focal points of towns, take decades to build and stand for hundreds of years.

When we design and build with spirit at the heart of our intentions, we see the true capacity and creativity of mankind.

There have been many churches, like the Sagrada Familia in Barcelona, that builders have worked on for their whole lives . . . and have not seen the completion of.

This is a reminder that life is continuously unfolding.

There is no 'completion'—only progress and evolution.

Attention to detail can naturally come about when there is no rush, when we slow down and enjoy the process of creation. In a competitive and fast-paced world, our true creative efforts can dwindle. However, in a purely spirited space, a timelessness exists that has the power to instantly remove obstacles.

Exploring the energetic and psychological components of spaces is the beginning of creating meaningful architecture. Our relationship to how we feel about them, within them, and while creating them tells a unique story.

These energetic factors within spaces have a value like no other.

FORM & FUNCTION: What I found missing in a tropical paradise

In my recent trip to the Yucatan Peninsula, I was able to explore the architecture of Azulik—which can quickly be described as a hotel and art district. But it's so much more than that!

Azulik is a collaborative masterpiece that combines architecture, art, nature, community, and even AI.

The organic forms and textures of the buildings were mesmerizing. It was a true testament to the transformative power architecture can have on our state of mind.

These buildings, weaving around existing vegetation and mirroring the curves of the environment, evoked a sense of serenity and wonder. It underscored for me the importance of spaces that invite tactile engagement with their materiality. Moving across Azulik's hilly floors, through its circular doorways, and over its natural spans of bridges transported me to a space of wonder.

But something was missing…

I noticed that the maintenance staff seemed very busy, and reconstruction was on the horizon. Designing a building around indoor (and outdoor) trees is a dreamy idea—until the building starts taking in water! Ay vida!

I was reminded that functionality is an essential counterpart to artistry.

Even the most spiritually inspired designs must contend with the practicalities of upkeep and longevity.

Tropical climates present that exact challenge.

If we would like to build around trees, we can consider…

Conservatory-style structures with transparent roofing systems.

Many of these systems can be open to the sky during fair weather, and closed against the elements when necessary. This, of course, opens our building up to:

  • Direct sunlight/UV damage

  • Temperature changes

  • Humidity changes

  • Pests

When designing these spaces, we must consider building materials that are resilient to these environmental factors.

Partial outdoor spaces

These can be designed in unique, artistic ways that reflect nature's forms, and include:

  • Decks

  • Porches

  • Patios

  • Balconies

  • Rooftop spaces

These can easily be incorporated into the interior space—for example, a glass door wall system can open directly onto a deck, effectively merging the outdoor and indoor spaces, but can easily be closed to protect against the elements.

Nature itself is ever-changing. Hills and dunes shift. Pools and rivers change their banks. Our structures typically seek to find long-term stability amidst nature's evolutions.

How can we develop designs that live in harmony with these evolutions—but do not themselves quickly degrade?

Consider that a strong, resilient, functional building has its own story to tell (recall the churches I mentioned, which are made to endure for centuries). We do not have to ignore the flow and form of nature while pursuing this.

BAMBOOZLED: Keeping bamboo resilient by honoring tradition & inspiring others.

Bamboo, a fast-growing natural material, holds a special place in tropical architecture.

Its irregular form mirrors nature's unpredictability, infusing architectural designs with a unique charm rooted in sustainability and cultural heritage.

During my time in Indonesia and Hawaii, I delved into the world of bamboo—from working on a Maui bamboo farm, to collaborating with Bamboo Living on prefabricated homes, and studying with Ibuku in Bali. These experiences revealed the diverse building techniques and innovative applications of bamboo firsthand.

Bamboo is strong, durable, and lightweight. Its appearance is irregular, inviting us to appreciate the beauty and strength inherent in nature's forms. It also has a rich tradition of use—by taking the time to understand bamboo's properties, history, and cultural significance, we engage in a sacred dialogue with the land, our ancestors, and the structures we build.

The challenges of using bamboo in tropical environments, where moisture and insects abound, require thoughtful consideration. Some resort to toxic processing methods. But honoring bamboo's natural resilience is the best way to uphold its integrity.

Preserving timeless techniques like bamboo construction becomes a labor of love.

By inspiring and educating future generations, we ensure that these ancient crafts continue to thrive, rooted in reverence

for tradition and nature.

Balancing form, function, and sustainability in bamboo architecture embodies spiritual principles of stewardship and harmony with the natural world. By minimizing toxins and maintenance efforts, we honor the sanctity of our environment and the materials it provides.

In my own projects, I integrate bamboo as interior features, shielding it from external elements to enhance its longevity and minimize environmental impact. Through such mindful approaches, we not only harness bamboo's strength, but also nurture a deeper connection to the earth and its resources.

Inspiring the next generation to embrace bamboo isn't just about technical skills. It's about fostering respect for nature and cultural heritage. By instilling reverence for bamboo's unique properties and encouraging innovative approaches, we ensure that this sacred craft continues to evolve.

Find the Perfect Eco-Building Method for You!

Building your dream home can be an exciting decision! It can also be overwhelming. How do you decide what alternative building system aligns best with your vision, budget, and environment?

The answer lies in exposure.

Introducing the 'Build Outside the Box Mastermind'—a course that demystifies your alternative building options.

This course is a journey through 11 distinct eco-alternative building methods. You'll get a taste of all the methods, so you can discover which best suits your climate, budget, skill level, environment, and aesthetic.

With 20+ hours of video classes, downloadable resources, and live Q&A sessions, you'll gain the knowledge and confidence to make your dreams reality.

Enrollment includes:

  • 20+ hours of video classes

  • A downloadable follow-along workbook

  • Self-assessment to help you clarify your needs and values

  • Actionable steps to move your project forward

  • Lifetime access to the course materials

  • Live classes and Q&A sessions with masterminds

  • Access to a private community: share discussions with masterminds and your classmates!

Enrollment Open Until April 28th!

Get $100 off with Coupon Code CRANSBURY

BIOMIMICRY: Nature's filtration systems

During my travels, amidst areas plagued by pollution, I came upon one of the most pristine lagoons I've ever seen—intensely blue and crystal clear.

How could such purity thrive in a landscape rife with litter and pollution?

Nature has its miracles. This seemed to be one of them.

Fed by underground cenotes and springs, the lagoon benefits from freshwater naturally filtered through porous limestone bedrock. This filtration process is further refined by slow-growing mineral stromatolites. These stromatolites diligently remove sediment and contaminants, enhancing water purity . . . and resulting in exceptionally clear, beautiful water.

A similar principle applies with man-made water filters, with different-sized filters capturing particles of varying micron sizes.

In a place struggling to localize potable water, compensating with plastic bottles as a stopgap solution, what untapped wisdom and sustainable alternatives lie within reach? With such clear freshwater at its fingertips, I'll be curious to see what becomes of this place.

This got me thinking about how we can improve on-site design to create more potable water.

Biomimicry, the art of emulating nature's strategies and designs, presents a promising avenue for incorporating natural filtration into our home designs.

Wells or cisterns can be implemented to collect rainwater, which can then undergo natural filtration processes, such as percolation through layers of porous materials like sand, gravel, and limestone. These materials act as natural filters, removing impurities and contaminants as the water passes through them. By mimicking the geological features of underground aquifers, we can harness nature's filtration capabilities to purify rainwater for domestic use.

I also like biofiltration systems and constructed wetlands to treat wastewater.

Biofiltration Systems

  • Living organisms, like bacteria and plants, break down and remove pollutants.

  • Layers of soil, sand, and gravel filter water and provide homes for microbial communities.

  • Biodegrade contaminants found in wastewater.

  • Incorporating plants enhances the filtration process.

Constructed Wetlands

  • Mimic the function of natural wetlands to purify wastewater.

  • Consist of shallow basins or channels filled with gravel, soil, and plants.

  • Create habitats for microbial communities, which work together to biodegrade pollutants.

  • Produces water that meets regulatory standards for purposes like irrigation.

Bamboo and clay also offer avenues for filtration. Bamboo, for example, has naturally occurring antimicrobial properties and can be fashioned into porous filters that trap impurities while allowing water to pass through.

Through biomimicry, we have the capacity to treat our water with simple, long-lasting, uncomplicated systems.

Our connection with the Earth is at the heart of our dedication to resilient design. It makes sense that we want to see that spiritual connection in the structures we build—to feel closer to nature, to foster a sense of peace and awe in our lives, and to respect the environment that we're making our homes in. We can accomplish this, all while building in a way that preserves the functionality of our structures.

That concludes your April edition of Building Resilience!

Interested in developing a resilient property?

If you have any questions about resilient design, or suggestions for a future topic, please reach out via email.

I want to express my gratitude for your dedication—whether you're actively involved in sustainable building, or simply seeking knowledge on the subject. Every move we make in the right direction paves the way for the next generation. Thank you for being part of this journey toward a stronger, more resilient tomorrow.

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I love all things natural. I love building places we can call home and in turn be our most authentic selves. 

Although I specialize in architecture and interior design, I appreciate all forms of design where form and function are in balance.

My hope is to inspire others to find eco-friendly options valuable and beautiful. 

This is where eco meets elegance... 




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