THE FIELD PHILOSOPHY
Each project begins with a reading of the land, the beginning of a process that we call GROUNDSCAPE. Our work is deeply embedded in every parcel, in restoring a reading of the land to what it wants to be. We see architecture as part of a conversation with nature that allows humans to return to being “a part” of nature, as opposed to “apart” from it.
Father-and-son team Stan and Jess Field begin with the land, a conversation, and a thousand sketches. Our interest in place-making spans generations and countries. Stan was taught by Louis Kahn; Jess grew up drawing under Stan’s South African drafting table. Our exchanges are constant, considered, optimistic, rigorous, sensitive, and full of wonder: the exact qualities with which we infuse Field Architecture’s work.
Architecture sits at the intersection of art and science. Our approach is one that weaves creative and technical perspectives. We explore the unique radiance of each material, and the way in which all materials work synergistically. We track the origins of every building material, from where it was first formed to how it’s been quarried, milled, polished, made perfect. We are dedicated to using materials in a way that celebrates their original qualities. For us, they are not additive processes; they are the essential building blocks of architecture.
We consider lot lines and the path of mountain lions; native species and the value of the well-placed tree. For us, a site is more than a grid of lines artificially imposed by zoning ordinances or neighborhoods, though it is also that. It is a slope, a pocket, a ground, a land. Place is contextual and also deeply specific; we consider the difference between a Big Sur house overlooking the breathtaking Pacific, and a vineyard deeply situated in not only the physical but also the cultural history of the Napa Valley. Both Stan and Jess have a deep respect for what a place wants to be, and how architecture can draw that essential identity out through a combination of form, material, space, and light.
The basic ecological considerations of our planet, in all its phases, is woven into each and every project. We begin design by situating the building in its specific landscape; we track how the architecture can begin to respond to the particularities of climate, topography, soil, hydrology, flora, and fauna. We are interested in how a building can become part of the land; how architecture can encapsulate a space upon the ground that then brings the inhabitants into a new conversation with their landscape. We track animals and we also remember that we are animals. Sustainability, for us, is no buzzword; it is a deeply-felt sense of attention and reverence for our home.
Both Stan and Jess hand-draw constantly, Stan producing tiny sketchbooks that track the movement of a building through and over a landscape, that create iterative designs, Jess layering trace paper over printed-out renderings to explore what happens when you move a beam one or six inches. Our relationship to the hand is an extension of our relationship to the landscape: a way of understanding how deeply connected we are to the natural world, to thinking through the physical body.
Field Architecture uses Building Information Modeling software as our primary design tool. Using this technology allows us to communicate seamlessly and in real-time with contractors, consultants, and builders. It gives us a nimbleness and a flexibility for micro-adjustments and macro-scale changes. Using BIM on a recent project allowed us to pre-fabricate every single element and build a horse stable in under two days.