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A bird builds its nest using the materials at hand to create a perfect shelter for its bioregion. It doesn't fly to the next state for twigs nor does it build a home that is bigger than it needs. Instinctively it creates an environment that is nurturing, nontoxic, and free of synthetic chemicals. Like the bird, humans desire shelter that is cozy and nurturing, that satisfies the soul, mind, and body. This is the econest.
Project: Daryl Stanton Residence
Architect: Baker-Laporte and Associates
Builder: Econest Building Company, Robert Laporte, and Steve Vessey
Location: La Barbaria Canyon, New Mexico
This home site was a challenging but beautiful one. Located on a narrow strip of land in a box canyon, the building pad sits between a steep hill rising to the west and a sharp drop-off into a grass wetlands to the east. The European style of timber frame was designed in response to the owner's desire for a cozy "country cottage" feel. The 1,700-square-foot main house has an east-entry porch that leads to a solar atrium, then steps up into the central kitchen/dining/living space. A dense straw/clay wall serves as a heat sink to gently distribute the solar heat between the atrium and the living space. A small wing steps up to the north of the main living space where Daryl's daughter, Brianna, has a study area, bathroom, and bedroom with a play loft. The second-floor master suite tucks under the roof with east-facing gable-end windows facing a dramatic mountain view. A shed dormer expands the upper living space.
I came into the designing and building of my new home with some experience. I had done an extensive remodeling and redecorating of my home in the early 80s and became extremely sick as a result of the chemical exposure. Later I built a healthy home for myself; however, it wasn't particularly ecological. When I came to Robert and Paula, I was interested in building a home that was both healthy for me and the planet. I experienced one of their homes and found it to have a feeling of living in harmony with the land . . . it smelled like being out in nature, it breathed. It had a feeling unlike any other type of home I had ever been in.
I wanted a home that had a cozy, organic country feel. Nothing too polished. So the idea of a European-style timber frame with exposed beams, plaster walls, and floors from local earth really appealed to me. I created a country kitchen and dining area with hanging pots and pans and open shelving for the dishes. Robert and Steve built the cabinetry with solid wood boxes and rough-sawn pine facing. Finding chemical-free furnishings for my new home was a challenge but one that I enjoyed. In fact, when I completed my new home I decided to start a business to help other people create healthy and beautiful interiors, too, and that is how my business, Casa Natura, was born!
01 Building with Light Clay/Straw
02 The Econest System for Clay/Straw Building
03 Building for Health Naturally
04 The Elements of Econest Design and Construction
06 Making It Happen For You
08 Eight Common Questions About Econests
09 Case Studies