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Artrageous Architecture part one… Streaming Light

by Mary-Ann Brandon
HUERFANO — In October of 2009, designer finn jorgensen* and his wife Tamara traveled from California in their fifth wheel trailer to visit the land that his clients had purchased in Huerfano County as a building site for their dream home.
Clive and Ruth Heal had grown tired of their life in the Bay area and longed for something more holistic. They envisioned a connection to nature and community, something they didn’t have in a city where they didn’t even know their neighbors.
After inspecting the site and discussing ideas, the couples headed for the trailer to eat and lay their heads down for the night. Instead of falling into a blissful sleep, the wind arrived and rocked them to such an extent, that jorgensen contemplated advising the Heals to abandon this site. Unsettled, the designer decided to take a walk. He braved the wind and asked the land to send him a message. As suddenly as it started, the wind died down and the vision of the house and how it would sit in the land arrived like a bolt of lightning. Says finn; “First you have to listen to the land, you have to wait for it to come through you not from you”. From that inspiration came the design of one of the most remarkable habitats likely ever built in this area.
The initial idea to construct on a rocky hilltop came after Ruth and Clive visited some of their best friends from California who had relocated to the Huerfano. A building lot became available and with a sense that there was something special about this piece of land. Their plan was to not only build a house that is sustainable, natural and organic, but also to eventually build a community of like-minded individuals.
Getting jorgensen on board seems to have been the glue that was essential to attaching all the various technical and artistic pieces of their vision.
Exuberant and enthusiastic finn jorgensen tells me, that this project is a co-creation, a manifestation of his client’s dreams and desires. While staying in the fifth wheel trailer, the designer and his clients drafted an in depth mission statement leaving no detail unattended.
Soft spoken, intelligent and with a very clear notion of exactly what they are going for, Clive and Ruth Heal graciously gave hours of their time to explain the various details of this truly artrageous house.
Initially, Ruth had envisioned a house that would be so natural that it would melt back into the earth in 100 years.
The home site was excavated providing the soil for 28,000 adobe bricks that were formed, on site, by adding 6% Portland cement and using a method of compressing called C.E.B. (compressed earth bricks). Visually, the house is designed to appear not as if it were constructed, but instead, as if it grew out of the ground, organically.
Rather than bringing in a construction firm from Denver or Santa Fe, the Heals were adamant that they wanted to employ as much local building talent as possible. Master craftsman, Tom Johnston has done an outstanding job in helping the couple to bring the best artisans in the area to the table.
(Next week, look for part two of the “Streaming Light” story)
* (finn jorgensen prefers the use of lower case letters in his name)