On February 20th the architecture school at University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia held a celebration in memory of the great architect Louis I. Kahn. Simone was invited to contribute to a panel discussion on the occasion of the publication of William Whitaker's book Brought To Light: The Houses of Louis I. Kahn.
February 24th, 2014, Simone gave a presentation From the Nile to the Rio Grande at Columbia University architecture school about her apprenticeship with Dr. Hassan Fathy (1900-1989) in Egypt and about her ensuing experiences with adobe design and building at Presidio, Texas.
Letter from Simone Swan:
Climate change having severely damaged Swan House & Lab in Presidio, Texas, I got to work to find a team to first repair the plaster. The team was headed by Stevan de la Rosa, adobe pilgrim, former participant in an Adobe Alliance workshop in 2006, and constant friend. Stevan hired three local workers and one from Minnesota who came along with him. The work took two weeks, the results of plastering with clay, straw and lime are positive. They seem resistant to our new tropical rains in the Chihuahuan desert, and look very professional -- substantial, carefully administered, promising -- a job so thorough that Stevan's report is included here with photos below:
Next urgent project is to rebuild caved-in vaults built by students under the tutelage of Jesusita Jimenez and myself. The original four vaults built in 1998 by Mario Rodriguez, Jesusita Jimenez and Joaquin Valenzuela are structurally undamaged. One of them built by students after 2006 has fallen a length of 4 or so feet, the other built by student architects needs about two days restoration. We are recruiting experts, including Joaquin. The placement of each small, lightweight adobe brick takes some expertise and skill, precise attention and at least prior experience.
When done, we foresee the work to happen in October 2014. Furthermore, at the kind insistence of professor John Morony of Del Rio, Texas, the entire surfaces of walls, vaults and our beautiful dome will receive a lime wash for further protection from the treacherous elements of water and sun.
I am now busy working since the summer of 2013 on my archive with Chrissy McMillan of Tucson, also advised by extraordinary writer and translator Ronald Christ of Santa Fe. Archivist Chrissy, Princeton graduate in architecture, is married to Shawn Protz who works with Rick Joy. The Joy office is friendly to the aims of the Adobe Alliance, and our work spaces are in the charming traditional neighborhood of the barrio viejo, south of downtown Tucson. Please call 505 988 2828 or visit or write. News is always welcome from those interested or even obsessed with earth architecture.
I shall actively put the Swan complex with its 500 acres on the world market, to be purchased by a teaching institution. Proceeds from such a sale will allow us to build our headquarters here in accessible Tucson, Arizona.
Simone Swan, founder/director, Adobe Alliance, future itinerant designer/builder of low-cost high energy adobe housing. Teaching destinations are in Nepal, Colombia and Mexico. Mailing address: 600 south 9th Avenue, Tucson, Arizona, USA, 85701. mobile phone 505 988 2828.