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A Breath of Fresh Air: Natural Materials Help Create a New Mexico Home

Robert set his sights on Tesuque, an idyllic hamlet just north of Santa Fe, New Mexico, where rolling hills and long vistas make for some of the Southwest’s prime real estate. Paula thought that would be lovely—and warned Robert that they certainly ...

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A husband-wife designer-builder team relies on natural materials and a tradition of craftsmanship to create their healthy New Mexico home. By Robyn Griggs Lawrence | March/April 2002 (function (d, s, id) { var js, fjs = d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0]; if (d.getElementById(id)) return; js = d.createElement(s); = id; js.src = "//"; fjs.parentNode.insertBefore(js, fjs); }(document, 'script', 'facebook-jssdk'));         Robert likes to give his homes “a good hat and a good pair of shoes.” In this case, a four-foot roof overhang and stone wainscoting work together to protect the natural wall system from the elementsRainwater is collected from the roof and stored in cisterns for Paula’s vegetable garden. Photo By Laurie Dickson #carousel-custom { margin: 20px auto; max-width: 500px; } #carousel-custom .carousel-indicators { margin: 10px 0 0; overflow: auto; position: static; text-align: left; white-space: nowrap; width: 100%; } #carousel-custom .carousel-indicators li { background-color: transparent; -webkit-border-radius: 0; border-radius: 0; display: inline-block; height: auto; margin: 0 !important; width: auto; } #carousel-custom .carousel-indicators li img { display: block; opacity: 0.5; } #carousel-custom .carousel-indicators img { opacity: 1; } #carousel-custom .carousel-indicators li:hover img { opacity: 0.75; } #carousel-custom .carousel-outer { position: relative; } .carousel-caption { color: #000; text-shadow: none !important; text-align: left; position: relative; left: 0; right: 0; } /*.carousel-caption:not(#caption-0) { display: none; } .carousel-caption:not(#caption-0) { display: none; }*/ .recipe-meta-item { padding-left: 5px; margin-top: 20px !important; } @media (max-width: 1201px) { #slider_captions { padding-top: 10px; display: inline-block; } /*.carousel-caption { padding-bottom: 0; max-width: 280px; float: right; right: 0; left: 0; }*/ .recipe-meta-item { display: inline-block; margin-left: 20px; margin-top: 54px; width: 90%; padding-left: 30px; } #carousel-custom .carousel-indicators { display: inline-block; } } @media (min-width: 1200px) { /*.carousel-caption { position: absolute; top: 0; text-align: left; left: inherit; right: inherit; width: 280px; padding-left: 5px; }*/ #carousel-custom .carousel-indicators li { padding-bottom: 15px; } } Paula Baker-Laporte considered her career as a residential architect many things—challenging, creative, satisfying—but dangerous was never one of themSpatial relationships were Paula’s love; construction methods and materials selection took a backseat to the aesthetics of formThen, several years ago, she joined the ranks of the chemically sensitive. “It was a real mind blower for me,” says Paula, who traces her illness to formaldehyde exposure during a short stint spent living in a new mobile homeSuddenly, visits to job sites—where the plethora of chemical-laden building materials exacerbated her symptoms—were impossible, a threat to her health“I thought, poor me; I’m sick, and I can’t be an architect anymore.” Determined not to walk away from the profession that she loved, Paula began to explore healthy, ecological building techniquesShe studied baubiologie (German words for “building” and “life”), a holistic discipline that includes the impact of buildings on human healthAnd eventually, she discovered the work of green building pioneer and teacher Robert Laporte, whose timberframe and straw-clay homes are the embodiment of safe, conscious, and aesthetically beautiful buildingPaula immediately signed up for one of Robert’s workshops in Crestone, Colorado, where her perspective on building was completely turned about“Working with Robert is more like cooking than building,” she says, describing a process that combines natural materials in simple, user-friendly recipes. Paula left the workshop determined to collaborate with Robert“I decided he needed an architect—even though he didn’t know yet that he needed one,” she says“We’ve been together ever since.” -Advertisement-

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