We had been toying with some of these ideas for a while. This is from a quick email where the dogme around the Zephyr project first appears.


Faaborg Harbor, Denmark

Dear Ed,

It was a pleasure seeing you this spring.

We're having a great time this summer,  a few mechanical problems but all is good.  I've been having a lot of fun with the ARC idea and have some thoughts.   I will necessarily be brief as my email is a little spotty here.

While working on the boat in Rudkøbing I met a Norwegian architect and planner, Lars Dyrehaug.  He said, "if you're going to live in the country, eventually you're going to need some buildings."   I agree.  Other things come first with the move to the country;

the purpose

the community

the economy

the landscape

the desire

then comes the buildings

There's a group of Danish filmmakers that, as a challenge put together a set of rules and principles (the DOGME) for example:

the film must be in real time

the film must use available light

the narrative must be singular


The result of making a film using this set of principles is elegant and beautiful.  Perhaps by the limiting the parts gain definition and significance.  More careful choices are made.  A set of principles is a constant reference point for the composition.  I think this is similar to C. Alexander's Pattern Language.   I started thinking about this set of principles,  how it could provide a framework for composition,  how it could shift, modify, evolve and teach itself.  

Following are some initial thoughts/statements about ARC and Dogme:

Is it a conversation with the world and desire in the world?

Is it an exploration of the first causes that are the holders of meaning of who we are individually and who we are as a community?

Is the meaning of the harmonies and chords and the echoes in the distance?

Is the ARC a weaving pattern or a song or an array of parts on the landscape;  a series of actions, reactions, relationships that become significant as they travel thru time.   I think it is all composition.  Some of it is a mystery.  Some of it is governed by biology and math and tradition and discipline and intuition.

For the moment let's call this set of principles DOGME (props to Jørgen Leth and Lars Von Trier).

The DOGME governs the interactions of;

the climate

the land

the people

the uses

the sizes

the shapes

the buildings


It is the way we combine and weave together these various and diverse elements.

We use the DOGME as a list and a platform for the ideas,  the ideals,  the dreams,  the calculations,  the technologies.  Things are added to the list and things are removed.   The following are examples of questions, the answers of which may help establish principle for the design.

I propose 4 parts to DOGME:    the background principles:

1)  MILJØ  (milieu, gestalt, général environment).  How does the composition participate with what it is in?  






view sheds

surrounding eco systems

surrounding infra structure


2) COMMUNITY  what are the dynamics that bring about community,  that allow it to exist?

 what are the nature of the interactions?:   (the public/private interface.   the body politic.   the body economy.)


what are the purposes/goals/synergies/delights:  (gardening music learning healing making classics handwork art)?

what are desirable physical patterns?

what are desirable social patterns?


3)  UTILITY   how does the built environment serve:

the milieu

the life and the people

what are the desirable physical patterns (again)

what is the balance and composition  (a good enough enclosure/permeability for nature to flow thru)

how does the built environment serve the people and the landscape rather than the people and the landscape vs. the people and the landscape must be modified to fit the buildings.

an example of dogme in utility:  

1) living space will have a primary SW orientation (all things being equal)


a) a long view    b) privacy   c)  infrastructure

4)  EFFICIENCIES   (the application of the principles again).  what are the appropriate technologies?  I like a schematic framework  that has a kit of parts, technologies, ideas and principles that can be applied, modified, interposed,  used in composition in a wide variety and rich array with easy access.








thru time


(an example of dogma in efficiencies:

1)   a central core element will act as the locus for power, water and sanitary, thermal exchange, &ct)

And so Ed,  these are ruminations regards the theory, or a sort of methodology blackboard.  I think a very nice direction would be where these dogma statements are made and kicked around.  Most of the ideas probably can be modeled schematically  (for example what does the public/private interface look like 2D?).  While some parts are project or site specific it should be possible to see the things that work together, the things that are mutually exclusive, where the economies are &ct.  Based on this kind of modeling and examination we can probably figure out what battles are worth fighting, what sort of expertise and technology is worth developing, and so forth.

I continue to be interested in a somewhat dense sort of village in a park scheme with an emphasis on privacy AND community.  Probably a simple rural vernacular and geometry.  I'm particularly interested in manufactured components and development of a broad based planning methodology.  (ARC in the mountains, ARC on the prairie &ct.)

I hope some of this makes sense

see you soon.