Towerhouse Skydeck

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Portfolio: Architecture


All living cultures are dynamic, evolving, and difficult to categorize as “pure or authentic.” Living cultures in a process of gradual transformation from one mixture to another soften across geographic and other cultural boundaries. Experiencing the process of the contamination of cultures, whether in the Eastern or Western Hemisphere or even in seemingly forgotten places in the United States, provides us with a heightened awareness of being between worlds within worlds. These places and conditions can be filtered and translated through the act of design. Brief immersions into living cultures such as the Arkansas Ozarks and Delta provide for an exchange of cultural perspectives and act as a deep source of possibilities in the conception of things and spaces that are understood and felt as somehow strangely familiar.

We engage in a process of reflective observation, empirical and abstract, and critical experimentation that aspires to the discovery of the formal and sensual character of things, the poetic quality of things, using the intersection of forces, natural and constructed, to understand what things are, not just what they mean. The ideas that nature builds on are local concepts that multiply, mix, and overlap. Their qualities are dense, embedded, and complex. This necessarily involves us in a macro- and microscopic investigation of “things,” their novelties, peculiarities, and dynamic organizations revealed in time. We attempt to translate the “outer beauty,” the measurement of things, their proportions and materials, as well as their inner beauty, the essence of things.

The world of things—things born and things made—provides a rich source of analogies and immanent relationships to be used to enrich our sensibilities and design strategies with regard to the things we make.

Architectural vernaculars at their best are like familiar faces in which we can recognize a deep character and rediscover the essential qualities we value most in architecture. We seek to re-create strangeness, beautiful and sublime, to revive and intensify a place and what is familiar by complicating and defamiliarizing our relationship to it. Drawing on the specificities of local situations allows for permutations of type that are resistant to the diminishment suffered by the vernacular through commodification so evident in most commercial development.

However, the field of view for architects is larger than the subject of architecture. Observed through a lens whose angle is wide and focus microscopic, nature and material culture provide rich reservoirs of ideas and images that can motivate a design. Biological and geological analogs and metaphors inspire methods and processes, which are often inductive. Our intentions are to amplify the small things that manifest in the larger.

What emerges through the mixing and hybridization of figures and types is local form—a transmutation of place—a secular vernacular that in place becomes spiritual. Our ambition is to put forward a logic that may open up the repressed raw power of architecture and the environment through a rethinking and remaking of where we already are. This place logic functions as the basis for architecture developed as an integrated system of determined relationships—sensual and sensible—with authenticity and integrity, which does not rely on store-bought theories or ideas. A poetic pragmatism is expressed through the aesthetic or emotional impact found in solving problems and in the process of connecting things that would otherwise be unrelated between the figures of nature and industrial types within a material culture. In the end we are motivated by the search for an architecture of use and convenience, permanence, and beauty, deeply rooted to place, with an emotive atmosphere and qualities that affect us deeply.


Inflections of Spirit Outside My Window


arkansas ozark mountains worn by time by weather tipped toward mississipi river delta the pattern after forest the mathematics of cotton rice patchwork of landscape of rural electrification measured pole to pole to pole wires overhead brown dirt below green fields and american postcard vernacular occasional punctuating shots of color from placards or posters tacked to wood creosote-stained and shot full of holes woodpecker ghost risen up from this arkansas landscape land of the trinity johnny cash dyess born million-dollar quartet when a million meant something memphis bound and beyond in black in rows of two of three of five long house chickens feed me give spirit to form to skulls to bones lucinda lucida lucid stories of this place from this space revival tent ephemeral and songs acute and real picture this this pictorial ancient alligator gar land reverent and irreverent and kin to jerry lee high low and in between the source and the inspiration

David Buege and Marlon Blackwell