I've taken my longest break from blogging in years for three awesome reasons: a new way to build, a new way to draw, and a new way to do business.
A New Way to Build
Hurricane Katrina changed everything. Andrés Duany and I came up with the idea of Katrina Cottages on the Saturday after the hurricane. On that day, we conceived of them as "FEMA trailers with dignity", but they've grown to be so much more. In the years since, we've built an entire toolbox of ways of building smaller and smarter from lessons learned from the Katrina Cottages, and they charmed people like we never anticipated.
Katrina accelerated another problem that exists through much of the US: moisture. Simply put, we build our houses so tight today that we need to put them on life support. Get one hole in the envelope and the whole thing starts molding, mildewing, and rotting. The time has come for the sheetrock-free house.
I'm joining with two close friends to found a company that puts these ideas together with other great ideas of how to build better. Our SmartDwellings will not only breathe and be smaller and smarter, but they'll condition themselves without outside power for much of the year. More soon on this new venture.
A New Way to Draw
Our SmartDwellings are such a departure from normal ways of building that they actually changed the way we draw. Architectural drawings have changed radically since the 1970s on the production side as we moved from hand drawing and blueline machines to CAD and plotting. But they've scarcely changed at all in terms of the user experience. We asked ourselves "what happens if we do a radical upgrade to the user experience?" And so that's what we're doing. We'll roll out the new system at the University of Miami School of Architecture soon. Stay tuned.
A New Way to Do Business
The ways we do business as designers and builders are now broken, and I believe we are now in a true paradigm shift as great as the Industrial Revolution. Even the three prime virtues of business (better-faster-cheaper) are fading as we move from the Era of the Company to the Age of the Idea. I'm on the brink of finishing a new book: New Media for Designers + Builders that lays out how we need to be thinking and what we need to be doing if we hope to thrive. Even the book is a bit revolutionary on at least two counts, doing things that e-books should have done for some time, but haven't.
Any one of these tasks could have been almost all-encompassing. Trying to do them all at once has been completely so, as I've done little else for six months. But since each is close to done, I'll start blogging again soon. The next post will be fun: "How Steve Jobs Hit What Gropius Missed". One other note: I just got word today that Kaid Benfield gave a citation to an Original Green initiative: His Best of 2012 in Green Community Solutions post today tags Walk Appeal as the Best Expansion of the Green City Vocabulary. Thanks so much, Kaid!
PS: I'll get to the Steve Jobs/Walter Gropius post soon, but there are other things we need to talk about now.