Natural Selection

The Site-Specific Residences of Andersson-Wise

It was a visit to the 18th-century Spanish mission of San Juan Capistrano in Southern California that first inspired Arthur Andersson to pursue a career as an architect. He may have been only six years old, but so profound was the experience it informs his work to this day. In 1984, after an initial collaboration on the Louisiana World Exposition, Andersson set up a practice in Austin, Texas, with eminent post-modernist architect Charles W. Moore. Soon after they plucked the talented Chris Wise from his classes at the University of Texas to be one of their first employees––an inspired decision that led to Andersson and Wise setting up their own, eponymous firm together in 2000. “Moore taught us that you’ve got to get into the heart of what the design problem is in order to get a solution, and that usually comes from the site,” Andersson explains. It's an approach that has enabled them to solve such issues as how to lessen the need for air-conditioning under the glare of the Texas sun, or reduce heating in mountainous Montana, and many of the duo’s creations are built using materials that come from the site itself. “My notions aren’t wild, they’re just about the wild,” says Andersson. “The excitement for us is to find the glory in every spot, to find the amazing aspects of every place.”  Andersson-Wise’s sumptuous designs for private residences are collected in Natural Houses, a monograph released by Princeton Architectural Press this spring. 
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