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"Essential reading for anyone who desires to have a home that nurtures well-being."
--Helmut Ziehe, founder, International Institute for Bau-Biologie and Ecology, Inc.
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