I am a pioneer designer and builder of passive solar, super-insulated, healthy and affordable homes, an instructor in sustainable design and construction, a specialist in hygro-thermal engineering based on the universal laws of thermodynamics, and a philosopher of authentically green design in harmony with the natural world.
On this site, you will find a ten-part essay series called
Riversong’s Radical Reflections On Shelter
- Context – land, community & ecology
- Design – elegant simplicity, the Golden Mean
- Materials – the Macrobiotics of building: natural, healthy and durable
- Methods – criteria for appropriate technology
- Foundations – from the ground up
- Envelope – our third skin
- HVAC – maintaining comfort, health and homeostasis
- Energy & Exergy – sources and sinks
- Hygro-Thermal – the alchemy of mass & energy flow
- Capping it All Off – hat & boots and a good sturdy coat
As well as several more beyond the initial series, including Building (really) Green in Vermont, which was published in the Fall 2011 issue of the Green Living Journal, The Passive Solar Radiant Slab, published in the April/May 2010 issue of Home Power magazine, and my always popular Improvised Scaffolding, Cranes & Jacks and its necessary correlate: Safety on the Jobsite.
A recent (and extensive) addition is a pictorial 10,776 word essay titled From Rome to Portland – The Story of Concrete, on the very long history (and drawbacks) of concrete, from its first uses as a very natural material in Anatolia circa 11,000 BCE, through the Nabataean Bedouins, the Romans and the rediscovery of concrete 1500 years later in Europe, to the explosive expansion of concrete around the entire planet – now the second most used substance on earth after water.
My latest contribution is a ruminating critique of The Bankruptcy of the Design/Build Movement that began very near my current home in the Mad River Valley of Vermont in the mid 1960s. The essay explores the origins and evolution of the fields of architecture and engineering, investigates the essential values of those design disciplines – particularly Vitruvius’ three essential principles of firmitas, utilitas, and venustas and the core value of elegant simplicity – asserts the necessity of a whole-systems approach to the design of complex modern shelter, takes a look back at my own design and building history as well as the creation of the Design/Build Movement here on Prickly Mountain, details the shift from the Joy of Plywood to the Joy of Concrete and how building-from-the-hip leaves a lot of mistakes “cast in concrete”, examines why architecture and art are two different enterprises and why planning is essential to a quality outcome, and ruminates on what true architectural engineering craft entails.
by Robert Riversong: may be reproduced only with attribution for non-commercial purposes
I offer design and consulting services and can be reached at HouseWright (at) Ponds-Edge (dot) net.
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