I was invited to speak at a conference at the Smithsonian on this subject. The term Continuous Architecture aptly describes my style of working.
My own formal training was not in architecture but in art and sculpture. When I was a student, action painting was in. It glorified the physicality of paint and the act of painting. So when Anne and I started our home in 1959, it was not unusual to want to be part of the process of building….to feel the cement, to lift the adobe blocks, to watch the walls grow.
It was still a time when the general culture and the World of Architecture, in capital letters, were deeply into a view of life as parts of a big machine, International Architecture. This called for understanding one’s part in the scheme of things, staying within one’s walls, and barely, if ever, even peeking over the walls. The intellectual, educated world had not yet noticed that to modern astronomers the universe could not be explained any longer as a machine. Astronomers had begun to use the term, “mind.” This new vision is now only beginning to affect how we perceive life and architecture.
Continuous Architecture is much more like the growing process of a tree’s life, beginning with the earth, the seeds and where they came from and their memory, the part that the wind, light and storms played in the development of the tree. The process continues through its interaction with everything around it. In the case of the building, it is also the people who experience it, what they contribute, what they feel or understand and what they take away.
If the builder sees the building as part of a continuous web that begins with our ancestors searching for their own shelter, identity, and myth, and continues into the realization of new form, space, and light not yet dreamed of, he or she can give the building a richness and vitality that helps carry us into a world we are again connected to.
James T. Hubbell