This page last updated on  2/18/03

In 1975 I designed and built (with my own hands) a 2,400 square foot solar house in Ashland, Oregon.  That was back in the days when the Club of Rome was declaring an imminent end to civilization as we know it, and self sufficiency was trendy.

Ten years later (after many other adventures) we moved to Corvallis, and I again designed a house.  This one was more than twice as large, and I limited myself to doing just the electrical work.  Although it uses the sun only passively and occasionally for heating, it is designed to make the most of daylighting to dispel the overcast Oregon winters.

In 1995 I gave a floor plan for the design of a school (see below) to an architectural firm in Salem.  The final design they came up with was quite close to my drawings (perhaps because I was funding the great proportion of the construction myself).  Shown below is a view of the back of the school.  The tall structure is the stage house.  It is eighty feet high, making the gym to its left seem stubby.  See the school web site for many more pictures.
The house included elements of both active and passive solar heating techniques.  In this picture the solar panels have not yet been put in place.
The house was built on a shoestring, and it took me a long time to finish it; it's hard to learn how to run a backhoe by reading the manual!  The house was located on an exposed hillside, and when the wind blew really hard at night, the place hummed.  I remember lying  awake, wondering if I'd put enough nails in the corners of the framing (I had - the house never blew away, though a few shingles did).

This picture shows Cecilia holding Emily at the north side of the house.  The entry pond is under construction behind her.  An oriental bamboo garden was planted around the  pond, with a bridge leading from a moongate (circular doorway, not shown) over the pond to the front door.  People entering pass over multicolored koi, and from the top of the falls we can look down to see guests arriving.  Two waterfalls feed the pond, one a direct one (see the cleft in the split-face block wall) and one a cascading waterfall (not visible in this picture)
The picture to the right shows the cascading waterfall after its constructuion but before the landscaping has had a chance to fill in.  Bamboo was planted to the east (some can be seen over my shoulder) and ground cover to the west, with flowering cherry trees overhead.
The two waterfalls add sound to the garden and also serve to aerate the water for the fish.   Although I never intended the garden for birds, many are drawn to the water and to the cover provided by the bamboo.