Interview with Michael Rice, faculty member San Francisco School of Feng Shui
Dan Winter, Michael Rice and Roger Green have been teachers and sponsors of conferences around the world, including recently in Mexico City and Budapest, and within the last 7 conferences sponsored by Roger Green with FengShuiSeminars.com promoting the concepts of BIOLOGICAL ARCHITECTURE. To read more, visit: http://holisticarchitecture.com AND http://goldenmean.info/architecture/. The following pictures are from Michael Rice's recent construction creation in Ireland.
Q - Are we completely mad to consider a curvy roundy house design!?
A - yes, probably! However, in an insane world, the consideration of something different to the accepted norm will always appear 'mad'. But by a wonderful twist of logic this weird consideration is oftentimes the more sane option! Indeed many people believe that the best way to create a truely sustainable beautiful life is to look closely at the norm and then go and do the opposite!
Q - are the principles of biological architecture real or just some passing offshoot of the green design fad?
A - what is real is how nature uses shapes, forms, ratios, patterns and wave geometries to create and support life and all living systems. Many experiments have being done to show how seed germination is dramatically enhanced under conditions based on bio architecture principles. There is also abundant anecdotal evidence supporting this understanding, in the form of very positive feedback from the builders and occupants of spaces built on these principles. We prefer to think of our approach as 'full spectrum design' rather than limiting it to just the colour green!
Q - will building one of these homes cost much more than a more traditional design?
A - a very good question! Many people understandably assume that stepping away from the established norm automatically increases the cost. What we have found many times is that the cost tends to be in the region of 10 to 30% more expensive. However, in many cases this increase was directly attributable to a client choice of finishes rather than the primary cost of construction. Ultimately, the end product can save money in terms of running costs as well as doctor bills!
Q - how will I find builders to even quote for my house?
A - without exception and with startling examples, we have found that 'like' attracts 'like'. This means that when one commits to following ones dream the Universe happily jumps on board for the ride! We understand that from a left brain logical perspective this approach may sound like some new age wu wu... But when one understands the true operating systems and processes of life then one soon realises that it could not be any other way. Many builders and craftsmen / women who have no experience of creating these forms and spaces rise to the occasion quite enthusiastically. There are many 'short cuts' that can be shown to facilitate the building process, and indeed the timeless use of a string / compass, the human eye and a good spirit level can do remarkable work on site. Many times we see examples of where initially nervous trades folk come back on site in the evening and weekends to finish work on their own time. A good sign to be sure! Trust is an essential ingredient in this process, and allowing for folk to 'rise with the tide' is a valuable factor. Heart base pride in being part of something special is a wonderful motivator and enthusiasm is a quality that can move mountains.
Q - how will standard furniture fit into these shapes?
A - anyone who is familiar with Feng Shui (the Chinese Art and Science of Placement) knows that the first thing to do when seeking to optimise life force in a space is to free up the flow of energy. Oftentimes this requires the placement of furniture to create a curvy space enclosure. Many of these designs ARE the curve that is being sought and so the building IS the flow. Most of the wall curves are quite gentle and standard furniture fits very well against them. Similarly, the curves often offer lovely opportunities for nice design features, such as a feature alcove or bed head shelf for books / candles etc.
Q - there are so many design options!... How do I know which design is best for me?
A - A pragmatic and well thought out brief of needs and wants is important in any decision process. However, we prefer to engage the infinitely more knowledgeable faculties of the heart! Our first impressions, when coupled with sometimes-subtle feelings or tingles of excitement can often be our best guide. The shapes, forms, ratios and numerical patterns all have specific feelings, both physiological and psychological - for example geometry based on the cube, the triangle / tetra or the hex can create feelings of enclosure / storage or indeed safety. Conversely, pent based geometries are about distribution, sharing and movement. Ultimately you will get exactly what you need!
Q - most of the projects on the gallery page seem to be timber frame, do I have to build with wood or can I use other materials?
A - there are many levels to this answer. On the surface, it makes sense to use materials that are easily available, affordable and good to work with. In most of the Irish projects that have been completed, timber, sourced from Canada, has proven very successful and versatile. Straw bale, mud brick, rammed earth and other natural materials and methods have proved fantastic also. From a strict Bio Architectural perspective it is possible to be quite precise about the specific hierarchy of 'sacredness' of a specific building material - in terms of its ability to be a natural capacitor. A comprehensive chart displaying this information is available on www.goldenmean.info/architecture For example, close grain hardwoods are wonderful, as the harmonic inclusiveness of a living tree maintains the memory of how to hold charge / life force. Similarly, gold is a wonderful metal to build with.... But can be a tad expensive! Aluminium and steel are not recommended for living spaces as their charge fields are literally the opposite of what life requires.
Q - what effects, if any, can I expect from living in these spaces?
A - at a human level there are as many answers to this question as there are people! Overall the response to these spaces, from start to finish, is overwhelmingly positive. Because we design for optimal solar heating and movement of energy, these homes tend to be cheaper to heat and keep. In terms of the building process itself folk describe it as being hugely enjoyable and remarkably easy, despite general expectations and projections. >From a physical health perspective many people have reported a definite strengthening of their immune system resulting in less illness and more vitality. In two notable examples, folk who had active diagnoses of stage four cancer recovered their health fully. Several couples, who had been told medically that they could not have children all became pregnant! These are of course rather extreme examples and do not in themselves constitute proof of anything, but do give rise to very interesting possibilities. Others report a fine-tuning or general upgrade in their relationships with family and friends. This is certainly consistent with what we understand of living systems and how increased electrical fractality entrains a smoother presentation of form - or in other words, a less stress existence! Many people report that everyday they grow more in love with their space and say how their homes support them on so many levels. We believe, after literally hundreds of examples of very positive feedback, that these spaces optimise life and the living of it.
Q - how will I get planning permission/building permit from the council for such an unusal design?
A - we would have an above average success rate with attaining planning permission / permits compared to other more conventional designs. As many of the forms, shapes and constructs are pure principle people who perceive them tend to be attracted to them, without actually knowing why in many cases. A lot depends on the eventual presentation and the clarity and elegance with which the design and its siting are imbued.
Q - will I be able to easily insure my house?
A - there should be no reason 'why not' here. It is the forms and shapes that are perhaps more unusual, not the building materials themselves. I have not heard of any difficulty to date.
Q - will I be able to secure a loan from my bank?
A - this very much depends on your individual circumstances, but a design, which is inherently and timelessly beautiful, will always hold and build its value.
Q - I read the description of Bio Architecture and to be honest most of the concepts and language was beyond me!.... In a few simple sentences how would you define the advantages of buying and building one of these designs?
A- we actively sought not to dumb down the information about Bio Architecture - nor to over intellectualise it. Staying with scientific terminology is useful as it is a language of rigour and clarity. But in simple terms I would say that Biological Architecture is based on a pure principle set of natural operations. In essence, Mother Nature uses certain geometries, shapes, forms, ratios and growth patterns to create life and living sustainable systems. We in turn use these patterns to design and create fractal harmonic spaces, which are measurably more supportive of biology and life. As most of us spend the majority of our lives indoors, the implications for how we live, eat, sleep, make love, give birth and even die in these spaces are considerable. It's a win win!
Q - many of the designs feel quite complete in form. How might I extend in time without affecting the geometric 'purity' of the original form?
A - quite often the geometric matrix, which gives rise to the plan, can effortlessly extend itself to incorporate new spaces without compromising the integrity of the original. Sometimes the building of a separate space can house the extension in a harmonic of the base pattern. Much is possible.
Q - if I make changes to the wall positions or the height of the walls during construction will I mess up the design!?
A - I would not advocate becoming a slave to the geometry, as living systems quite often morph and explore new expression, especially as they emerge and unfold. However, the opportunity exists to maintain the geometric clarity as much as possible to ensure a smooth fractal flow from space to space. If walls need to move then they should do so in the direction of least resistance!
Q - how can i make amendments or alterations to a design such as making the overall size smaller or larger?
A - we offer a custom service to adjust / amend an existing design. This fee / cost for this added service is generally 50% on top of the base price, or more / less based on an agreement.
Q - can the same principles be used to design larger buildings, or collections of buildings?
A - of course, these pure creative principles operate fully at all levels - from the sub atomic dimensions of string theory to the arrangement and flow patterns of entire galaxies! So we find over and over again that scale is profane, ratio is all...... Size doesn't matter after all!!
Q - can the house design be used to inform the design of the landscape around the house?
A - absolutely, and doing so measurably increases the energetic context richness of the entire land holding, which in turn cheers the Earth Grid up no end! It also facilitates a wonderful template for possibilities in terms of the placement of water features, labyrinths, standing stones and other grid engineering elements.
Q - is it possible to use the same 'generative matrix pattern' to design our furniture and other finishes?
A - of course, and as with the house informing the design of the landscape, we can use the same base harmonic to design resonant furniture as well as providing a blueprint for placement of light fittings, openings etc. We eventually intend to form partnerships with artists and craftspeople in Africa, India and South America who will offer paintings, jewellery, wall hangings and sculpture, which will be in harmony geometrically with the entire house! A wonderful house-warming present!
Q - how do these shapes and forms affect the energy of the land?
A - very positively. We have direct experience of the entire energy condition of the land forming a rose like symmetry when the building is first laid out, and sometimes before! This has the effect of removing geopathic stress as well as increasing the overall charge density of the land holding. The elemental forces of the land absolutely love these designs and come out to party at every opportunity!
Q - is ritual important during the building stage?
A - ritual, when performed with love, imagination and enthusiasm, is utterly appropriate and very recommended. These beautiful events mark the nodes of growth and emergence and provide a wonderful nest for us to share and distribute our memory - embedding us in the perspective of the land. This is another description of HOME!
Q - what affect will the usual design have on the resale value?
A - beauty is timeless and value will always ride that wave.
Q - what are, if any, the hidden costs that might emerge with this form of building?
A - people can sometimes end up spending more on finishes because they love the emergent space so much!...
Q - I am not in a position to build anew..... What can I do with my existing space to make it more holistic?
A - there are many options here, and perhaps you could use some of the designs as inspiration to work with you own architect?
Q - are other architects/designers working with these principles?
A - very few, but the number is growing rapidly! Recently we presented in Mexico where 300 architects and designers attended and left much more knowledgeable and enthused. There is nothing as unstoppable as an idea whose time has come! Can you imagine a time when architects fees are based solely on how much life force their buildings can hold?! And the knowledge of how to design and build a natural capacitor is the first thing taught and learned in schools of architecture? (Or medical colleges for that matter!)
Q - give me an example of how I can introduce biologic architecture simply - to a sceptical and or non-technical friend?
A - biologic architecture is based around the new science that shows that all living things actually grow and thrive better in an electric field, which is fractal, or rose like - created by materials which themselves were at one time part of biology. The science word for this 'fractal field' which causes DNA to grow better is called 'phase conjugate dielectric'- but it simply means waves 'conjure' up life when they can meet each other in rose like patterns.
So what old feng shui called 'chi' is now something science can recognize as an electric field - which dramatically affects all health and growth. In practice this means - we limit steel and aluminium and synthetic materials, plus we make careful plans to place your living space on magnetic lines and fields that fit this rose like and growth giving pattern. In effect we now know that really healthy living spaces actually need to look like, and have the material 'feel' (which turns out to be measurable) of roses, ferns, pinecones, and eggs - etc. These shapes and materials make life force- precisely because of their rose like and fractal internal and external geometry. The life giving uplifted feeling you get when you enter a classic sacred space (almost never happens inside steel or aluminium- but does happen inside biologic material structures) - is now something we can build as a real science!
August 2008 Newsletter from www.fengshuiseminars.com