2015 Work

Dear Friend,


I am launching a big effort to restore the adobe house & teaching lab we built in Presidio, on the TexMex border and would like to reassure some that we are earnest & worth saving. As testament I include the the List of Friends of Adobe Alliance, below, who are responding to this plea for help.


1. Help Save the Adobe-Vaulted Swan House


Since its traditional Nubian vaults took form on the Texas fringe of the Chihuahuan desert, the Swan House has represented a vision of earth architecture — affordable, graceful, and environmentally responsive. The house has served as an educational center where the transference of Hassan Fathy's architectural vision, modern while incorporating traditional climatically sound devices, was brought from his studio in Cairo to the borderlands of Texas (and the greater Southwest) by Simone Swan who apprenticed with him in Egypt. Swan’s vision is still teach and to demonstrate affordable housing, biologically performative materialization, community involvement, and educational potential rooted in the viability of earth-based organic construction. At the site, Swan's organization, Adobe Alliance, has based studios and workshops since 1997. Now, after the catastrophic storms and persistent rains of 2013 and 2014 the house needs your help and attention. Having suffered serious vault collapse it calls to an extended community of friends and professionals for help restoring, preserving, and re-activating it. -- Dennis Dollens, 2/28/2015.


2. Damage


Rainfall has quadrupled in intensity since 2013, during 2014 and part of 2015. When built in 1997-98, the house withstood average rainfall over 15 years of 10" per year. Consequently the house exterior was earth-plastered, with occasional patching and new plasters where and when needed. Damage due to climate change was not foreseen.


3. Plan for Restoration


a). Community organization for support and volunteers.

b). Survey of damage and collateral damage.

c). Assessment with, by and on-site team in consultation with international experts and practitioners.

d). Formulate and test local earth for adobes, plaster and mortar composition.

e). Rebuilding of caved vaults.

f). Replastering of all roofs and walls to withstand rains, material to be determined.


4. Restorers, Volunteers, Helpers


Friends, admirers and former builders at Swan House please renew your relationship at this time in the house's physical rescue — we need builder-volunteers, financial aid, grant-writing assistance, and media and public relations contacts. For former students and apprentices if you know sources to tap for contributions or grants please contact us to coordinate approaches.


5. Friends of Adobe Alliance


Antonio Santos de Sousa, architect,Santa Fe NM

Margaret Santos de Sousa, architect, Santa Fe NM

Rick Joy, architect, Tucson AZ

Mauricio Rocha, architect, Mexico DF

J. Gibbs, Tucson architect

Roberto Carvajal, Chihuahua architect

Philipp Neher, Tucson

Wm Menking, NYC, editor of ArchNewspaper

Sissy Farenthold, attorney & board member, Houston

Salma Samar Damluji, London/Beirut

Gina Papanikola, architect, Athens & Addis Abeba

Andrew Vernooy, TX Tech architecture school, Lubbock

Chris Taylor, Texas Tech architecture school, Lubbock

Stephen Fox, critic, Houston

Claude Hayward, builder NM

Ana de la Rosa, architect Chihuahua city

Mark Gunderson, architect Fort Worth

Beverley Spears, architect Santa Fe.

Bob Vint, architect, Tucson


6. Team


Frank (Skip) Briscoe, Houston

Roberto Carvajal, practicing architect & restorer of adobe churches in Chihuahua city and state,MX

Chuchi, worker, Presidio

Paul Dennehy, Fort Worth architect, Fort Worth, TX, with focus in historic restoration. A worker in mud brick fascinated by the beauty of the desert SW region.

Dennis Dollens, Santa Fe, NM, visiting professor, Biodigital Architectures master, ESARQ,Universitat Internacional de Catalunya, Barcelona.

Kurt Gardella, Santa Fe, NM. Certified specialist for earth building with earth by Dachverband Lehm, and the Handwerkskammer Ulm, Germany. Certificate in Adobe Construction from NNMC.

Mark Glover, builder, Alpine TX*

Eric Huskinson, itinerant environmental engineer

Jesucita Jimenez, Adobe Alliance co-founder & associate, Presidio, TX

Jesus Manuel Jimenez, contractor, Presidio

Jane Lowery, attorney, Houston, TX

Fatima Rizvi, NYC, junior architect

Efren Rodriguez, vault-builder, Ojinaga, MX

Joaquin Valenzuela, vault-builder, Presidio


7. Time frame


March 14, 2015 to completion.


cell 505 988 2828