JUMP START BIOMORPHIC OASIS

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ROUGH CONCEPT MODEL

 

I GET THIS E MAIL WHILE IN NICARAGUA FROM PAT KORTE, A MUSICIAN RELATIVE OF JOHN DEMERS, A FORMER SCI-ARC STUDENT OF MINE 40 YEARS AGO,  PAT SAYING HE IS HANGING OUT WITH JOHN IN THE DESERT AND MY NAME CAME UP SO HE DECIDED TO LOOK ME UP.    I DID NOT THINK MUCH ABOUT IT.  MONTHS LATER JOHN E MAILS ME CLAIMING I SHOULD CHECK JOSHUA TREE OUT WHERE HE IS LIVING BECAUSE OF THE EXTREMELY LOW PRICES OF LAND.  AT THIS TIME I AM IN LA MESA, EAST OF SAN DIEGO GOING NOWHERE AND SAY “WHAT THE HECK, I WILL CHECK IT OUT.”

BY COINCIDENCE I VISITED RALPH MURSINNA, ANOTHER FORMER SCI-ARC STUDENT.  RALPH MURSINNA IS NOW AN ARCHITECT THAT JUST COMPLETED HIS MONUMENT RESIDENCE NORTH OF SAN DIEGO.   RALPH AND JOHN DEMERS WERE CLOSE.    IN FACT I ATTENDED A BACHELOR PARTY FOR JOHN DEMER’S IN HIS DIGS, THAT RALPH ATTENDED, THAT WERE IN AN OLD POWER STATION BUILDING ON VENICE BLVD IN VENICE CA. CULMINATING IN A SKIRMISH THAT LED TO OTHER ACTIVITIES.

 

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RALPH MURSINNA , ARCHITECT                 IN FRONT OF HIS RECENTLY COMPLETED MONUMENT.

SO I DRIVE FROM SAN DIEGO TO JOSHUA TREE IN MY 1995 CHEVY LUMINA THAT LOOKS LIKE A COPS CAR THAT HAS BEEN IN TOO MANY CHASES YET, GETS OVER 30 MILES TO THE GALLON.  I WASH MY TREASURE IN SERVICE STATIONS WITH THE WINDOW SQUEEGEE.  SO YOU CAN IMAGINE THE SWIPES OF DIRT OVER MY ROAD WARRIOR.

THE EL CAJON PASS BRISTLING WITH HUNDREDS  OF HUGE WIND MILLS  LIKE A NO MANS LAND THAT IS CONSUMED BY HUGE MECHANICAL DRAGON FLY WINGS.

TO MY SURPRISE THE WHOLE AREA IS BUSTLING WITH TRUCKS, CARS AND STRIP FREEWAY DEVELOPMENT.

THE TURN OFF NORTH TO JOSHUA TREE ON 62 CALMS ME DOWN,   BUT STILL ACTIVE.

AS A KID OF TWELVE I FIRST LEARNED TO DRIVE IN JOSHUA TREE IN A SALVAGED WORLD WAR TWO JEEP.  MY FATHER WITH TB INVESTIGATING THE AREA TO RELOCATE TO RECUPERATE.  WE STAYED IN A DESERT RETREAT OF HIS CLIENT.

JOHN DEMERS NOW A LICENSED CONTRACTOR AND DESIGNER LIVING IN THE AREA FOR TEN YEARS GIVES ME THE TOUR AND A RUNNING DIALOGUE OF WHAT CAN BE PURCHASED AT STAGGERING LOW PRICES.   I BEING BROKE, AND YET STILL BEING ABLE TO PUT A HOOK INTO A PROPERTY.

JOHN REALIZING THE BEST WAY TO GET ME FUNCTIONAL WAS TO GET COMMISSIONS.   SO HE TAKES ME TO COPPER MOUNTAIN COLLEGE TO GET A TEACHING GIG THIS SPRING. I GIVE A SUCCESSFUL LECTURE,   THE COORDINATOR VOWED SHE WOULD TAKE MY CLASS THIS SPRING AND MY BUSINESS CARDS, JUST MINTED THE DAY BEFORE, WERE IN GREAT DEMAND.

JOHN INTRODUCED ME TO ACTOR FRIENDS CHRISTIAN CAMARGO AND WIFE JULIET RYLANCRE, BOTH ACCOMPLISHED, WELL KNOWN AND ADVENTURESOME.   AFTER THE LECTURE THAT THEY ATTENDED, CHRISTIAN SETS UP A LEAD TO DO A GALLERY SHOW IN LOS ANGELS   .  I ASK WHY?  HE SAYING “IT SHOULD BE DONE TO HELP YOU.”  WOW, HOW COOL IS THAT?

JOHN THEN TROTS ME OVER TO A BUDDHIST MONASTERY PROJECT WHERE AN ADDITION IS NEEDED. THE NUNS GET ONE LOOK AT MY PORTFOLIO AND SAY WONDERFUL BUT NOT FOR US.  WE ASSURING THEM WE WILL MAKE IT SIMPLE AND TIE INTO THEIR PEDESTRIAN CUBE NEXT TO A MOUNTAIN.  I RECOILING, BUT DIGGING IN WITH A SCHEME.  NOW  WAITING FOR THE VERDICT TO GO AHEAD.

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CAL- EARTH,   DOING THEIR THING IN JOSHUA TREE

THE BIG THING WAS TO FIND SOMETHING THAT WE COULD DO TOGETHER THAT PUSHED THE ARCHITECTURE OF THIS AREA.  WE VISITED THE CAL–EARTH PROJECT.  INTERESTING AND ADVENTURESOME, BUT NOT OUR THING.

JOHN POUNCED ON AN ASSISTANT SUPERVISOR FOR THE AREA AT THE BUILDING DEPARTMENT, A MICHAEL LIPSITZ, A NEW YORKER THAT LOVES THE AREA. HE WAS ENCOURAGING AND HAD THE EAR OF THE PLANNERS OF SAN BERNARDINO COUNTY, THE LARGEST COUNTY IN THE UNITED STATES. THE PLANNER PERSONALLY GAVE ME A CALL TO ASSURE ME THEY WERE AVAILABLE TO HELP WITH GREEN OFF THE GRID PROJECTS.  A FIRST FOR ME FROM A GOVERNMENT OFFICIAL ALTHOUGH THE LATE CALVIN HAMILTON, THE HEAD OF CITY PLANNING FOR LOS ANGELES, PUSHED THE VISION OF THE GREEN MACHINE.

WE DECIDED TO TAKE A CHANCE AND BUY A CHEAP LOT OF FIVE ACRES AWAY FROM ALL THE SHACKS THAT DOT THE DESERT HERE.  THESE SHACKS THE RESULT OF HOMESTEADING THAT REQUIRED A SHACK TO ACQUIRE THE LAND.   ANOTHER TAKE, GIVEN TO WORLD WAR II VETERNS TO HANG OUT IN THE FRESH AIR.   BUT MOST ARE VACANT NOW BECAUSE OF PEOPLE NOT WANTING TO LIVE IN THE AREA.  THE PARCEL WE SELECTED PART OF A SUBDIVISION THAT WENT NOWHERE.  THE WATER AVAILABLE, BUT ELECTRICITY A WAYS OFF TO CONNECT TO.

THE LOT IS IN ESCROW AND DUE TO CLOSE AT THE BEGINNING OF DECEMBER.  I HAVING TO SEND OUT A LETTER TO 35 FRIENDS AND FAMILY PROMOTING TO BUY FUTURE LODGING IN “JUMP START BIOMORPHIC OASIS.” THUS, HOPING TO RAISE CASH FOR MY HALF OF 5 ACRES.  MONEY JUST A MEANS, NOT THE GOD THAT PEOPLE RELATE TO.  MY DESIRE AND PUSH TO BUILD AN EXAMPLE OF THE BEST FOR MY WANING YEARS OF EXISTENCE TO SHARE WITH OTHERS WHAT IS SENSUAL UPLIFTING  AND RESPECTFUL OF THE EARTH.  AN EXAMPLE FOR THE DESERT’S TERRAIN THROUGHOUT THE WORLD.

 

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THE SITE

LOS ANGELES WITH 17 MILLION SOULS IS EASTWARD BOUND DEVOURING EVERYTHING IN ITS’ PATH,   THE LAST ESCAPE THE DESERT.

ANY SERIOUS ARCHITECT IN LOS ANGELES LIVES NO MORE THAN 20 MILES FROM THE PACIFIC OCEAN.  THE BETTER ONES 5 MILES.

YEARS AGO I DID A STUDY ON NATIVE AMERICANS IN THE DESERT WHEN DOING A PERFORMING ARTS CENTER FOR PALMDALE.  THE NATIVES WERE A FIERCE LOT THAT STRUGGLED TO SURVIVE. SO WHAT YOU HAVE LIVING HERE ARE ALL TYPES WANTING TO LIVE CHEAP TO SURVIVE.   RUGGED INDIVIDUALS SEEKING SOLITUDE ON LARGE LOTS.  THERE ARE THE MESSY LOTS WITH BROKEN VEHICLES EVERYWHERE AND HEAPS OF SALVAGE AND GARBAGE. THE POPULOUS LIVING IN TRAILERS AND MAKE SHIFT CONVERTED SHACKS.  THE NEXT LOT HAVING A BRAND NEW COOKIE CUTTER DOUBLE WIDE HOME WITH A NEW TRAILER AND CAR.  THE NEXT LOT AN ABANDONED SHACK WITH GAPING HOLES.   PROPS FOR A SALVADOR DALI PAINTING.  THE LARGE LOTS CREATE A DISTANT VIEW OF YOUR NEIGHBOR.  WITH BINOCULARS YOU CAN ZERO IN, BUT WHY TRY.

TO MY SURPRISE YUCCA VALLEY 20 MINUTES AWAY HAS WALMART, HOME DEPOT, STARBUCKS, DOLLAR TREE AND A NEW ASIAN BUFFET WITH SUSHI.   THE ENDLESS REACH OF THE CONSUMER CHAINS.

JOSHUA TREE BY PASSED BECAUSE OF LOW DENSITY DEMOGRAPHICS AND THE NATIONAL PARK THAT ATTRACTS ROCK CLIMBERS ON THE WORLD TOUR OF WHAT TO CHALLENGE. DOMINATE IN FORM TO INSPIRE.

THE LARGEST MARINE BASE IN THE UNITED STATES IS JUST NORTH OF OUR PROPERTY, THE OCCASIONAL FLARES AT NIGHT THAT ARE CONFUSED FOR U.F.O.’S.  THE DISTANT THUNDER OF HEAVY SHELLING  AND ROARING OF JETS OVERHEAD.  THE MOCK BAGDAD HAMLET FOR STREET FIGHTING BRINGS ONE ON LINE WITH THE REAL WORLD.  IN CONTRAST THE SOUND OF SILENCE ENVELOPES ONE.  THE VAST HORIZON WITH DISTANT MOUNTAINS, FANTASTIC SUNRISES AND SUNSETS, AND ENDLESS DEEP SPACE OF THE HEAVENS ABOVE ALL AGLOW .    OH YES, THERE IS SUNSHINE IN ABUNDANCE.

 

WE WILL CREATE OUR OASIS WITH THE AGE OLD TECHNIQUES OF USING THE EARTH TO BUILD, INSULATE AND COOL.  CISTERNS TO COLLECT A HUGE AMOUNT OF WATER TO SUPPORT THE FIG, DATE, AND OLIVE TREES.  RELYING ON NEW TECHNICAL ADVANCES TO GENERATE ELECTRICITY TO LIVE OFF THE GRID.

A WORKSHOP TO CONSTRUCT THE STRUCTURES, TAKE A BASIC DESIGN CLASS, AND DEVELOP A RESEARCH CENTER TO MAKE PROPOSALS FOR WHAT CAN BE.

AN EXCHANGE OF IDEAS TO LEARN AND BUILD FROM.

NOTHING NEW, BUT THE ARCHITECTURE WE COMPOSE.

COME VISIT,

 

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TYPICAL OF THE ROCK FORMATIONS AROUND JOSHUA TREE,   WITH THE ELECTRICAL WIRE OF MAN.

 

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JOHN DEMERS
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THE FIRST TRY,  EARTH MOUNDING THIN SHELL WITH SUNKEN FLOOR BELOW GRADE
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SECOND TRY         ELEMENTS ON ROOF OF  WIND SCOOPS TO COOL AND CHIMNEY TO VENT

 

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THIRD TRY     DEVELOPING THE SITE  WITH ENTRY,  WORK SHOPS , AND  CENTRAL COURT YARD

 

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FOURTH TRY      WITH EARTH MOUNDING AND SIMPLIFYING  WITH  TWO COURTYARDS

 

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FIFTH TRY WITH SEGMENTED SIMPLICITY BAYS
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INITIAL STAGE TO BUILD    CENTRAL COMMON SPACE WITH LIVING ON BOTH SIDES,  SHOP SEPARATED

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STANDING TALL,  ON THE JUMP START BIOMORPHIC OASIS SITE.

 

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A NEW DAY IN  THE  JUMP START LIFE OF GLEN HOWARD SMALL

POST OFFICE BOX  451      JOSHUA TREE         CA. 92252

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7 comments

    • Hi Glen
      Ralph and I were roomies during our SCIArc days. I have been meaning to respond to many of your fascinating posts. But it seems that the desert project is the one that really got to me. It looks awesome!
      Sometime in the coming years I … well me and my wife … stand to inherit 80 acres of dry lake bed out near Yermo in the Mojave. It is now my father in-law’s property and comes with his utopian schemes all drawn up and ready to go … that is if you are into Calico Ghost town themed golf courses!
      I also visited 29 Palms many times as a youth. My Grandfather owned a building in 29 Palms and in one incarnation it was slot car track. Anyway … good luck on your latest. It is very seductive from up here in Seattle.

      • hi mike,

        thanks for the comment. the escrow closed. the challenge now is to get from models and drawings to a built reality.

        glen

  1. Your pulp fiction style writing in the latest blog is great: evidence of a spirit aroused. It seems that you have some simpatico with the desert, perhaps from the early influence of your dad and driving. On the edge of my chair waiting for the other shoe to drop: the real deal gracing the desert land, a place in the sun for a peripatetic architect to come in from the cold.

    David

  2. Congrats on your next big step in the high desert with JD. Bio-oasis looks bio-utiful. It’s an extraordinary landscape out there, much deserving of some conscious architecture. Would love to visit you guys and catch up with John. Get the guest room ready.

    All the best,

    R

    • ralph,

      thanks for the encouragement. the next six months critical to get the project in motion.

      the guest room a tent for the moment.

      glen

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