The Crawford Residence was situated outside of an urban context, on the slope of an irregular hillside near Santa Barbara. The site has a relationship to both mountains and ocean. Our modus operandi in this instance took the form of excavation, digging into and sculpting the earth long before any structure was elaborated. Inspired by earth artists such as Michael Heizer and Robert Smithson, we began to explore a new interaction with topography and to challenge the object nature of the work. Molding the land, we took an intuitive, reflexive approach, subtracting the surface and thereby creating rhythmic patterns and oscillations of scale. This strategy was then augmented by a rigorous method of measuring the site, which remains evident in the concrete totems, a series of voids, and the heterogeneous organization of the final structure. In elaborating the building out of this complex interplay with the site, we dispensed with a notion of center or any single point of reference. Instead, the peripheral organization enhances a sense of dispersal, the building breaks up into a series of fragments, ascending or embedding themselves within the hillside. From within, the house is experienced through an enhanced perception of multidimensionality.
In the end, however, the initial conceptual apparatus had to come to terms with programmatic concerns and the clients' more traditional desires in terms of a domestic language. The result is something of a hybrid structure, a sometimes successful, sometimes uneasy reconciliation of conceptual and pragmatic impulses. Nevertheless, the Crawford House provided for the elaboration of a new kind of connectivity between site and structure that led directly to the Blades House, and in turn our work on the both the Blades House and the Crawford House foreshadowed future large-scale works such as Hypo Bank and Diamond Ranch High School.