I was two when I showed people around my dad's construction site saying "Look! 'tiful!".
Later I developed a habit of peering into people's houses to check out the layouts and deco. How they matched their surroundings, especially if it was an older house. I still do this. It’s less cute.
But it wasn't obvious I would become an architect. My dad was an architect, but he designed banks and airports and I wasn't really into that. Then one day I went to his office after school. I must've been around fourteen. Someone was drafting a plan layout for an apartment building. He was zigzagging the walls to fit seamless storage spaces. I thought that was the coolest thing I had seen in my life. I was absolutely and hopelessly hooked. My dad was thrilled. His daughter was following his footsteps. Except I wasn't really. I wasn't into making banks and airports. I was into homes. And nature.
I drifted through school like the good student I had always been and then drifted further away from architecture towards ecology and sustainability and permaculture. I discovered what my generation discovered, that we’re totally responsible for our environment and that we should start acting. After a winding detour through biophilic design, I came back to architecture, newly redefined through the lens of what I had learned. I came back to what I loved most, homes and nature. I added what I knew to be right, like sustainability, and what I knew to be true, like the need to work with nature, not against it. Permarchitecture means taking the time to truly be with a place.
Today I peer into people's houses as they envision them, as we listen to their land, together. We find, together, those elements that make it belong to place. I was lucky. Even though I had drifted from my early passion, as many of us do, I was fortunate enough to find it again, with renewed strength and a fresh perspective. Permarchitecture would not have existed otherwise.
The way we build our homes is a mirror of our perceived relationship with nature.
Permarchitecture first started out as a way to redefine the relationship I had with my profession. What does it mean to make good houses today?
There's one obvious answer: it means making them together with Nature, not against it.
So permarchitecture has morphed from a freelance architecture business to consulting and teaching, to, ultimately, the Listen to Your Land approach.
Sustainability is not a genre. In this day and age, if you're not incorporating sustainability in your design, you're not an architect.
It's as simple as that.
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