By Amy Knight

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The House We Live In: A Series on Building the Sustainable Home in Tucson, Arizona


As you may have gathered, it’s been quiet on the design front while we still have the project out for pricing. It’s been a while since I’ve thought about the house itself, the inside space, the experience of living there. So here is a picture, from Matthew’s drawings, of the inside:

Interior view

To the right of the couch is a hallway that leads to the front door. The couch is facing a wall with bookshelves, a piano with bench, and a TV. The round dining table adjoins a folding glass wall to the courtyard, and the kitchen. These are the main living areas of the house; it’s really just the bedrooms and bathrooms that you can’t see. (There’s also a built-in desk; in this view, you’re more or less sitting on it).

Sometimes I can forget, in all the focus on the sustainable aspects, that it’s also just a house. There aren’t a lot of features you can see in a picture like this that set it apart from any other house. You can’t see the water system or the solar panels, the thick walls or the precise placement of the windows. You can see that there are clerestory windows up high to let in light, and you can, generally, see that the windows are placed to avoid the west and south. But mostly, when I look at this, I just see a house, a comfortable house with spaces for all the right things.

A few weeks ago I wrote about patience. And I still have that. But I have excitement, too. I want to see this place built. I want to hang my art on these walls. I want to fill these shelves with my books. I wouldn’t say I’m impatient. Perhaps eager. I’m taking my time. I’m doing it carefully, planning as much out in as much detail as possible in hopes that the build itself with be smooth. But today, as I sit in my crumbling rental, avoiding bookstores to stem the overflow, I’m ready for some forward motion.



Amy Knight is the fiction editor for In this weekly series, she chronicles the process of designing and building an eco-friendly house in Tucson, Arizona. The series will explore both how it’s done and what it means, from the perspective of someone who wants to do the right thing but knows almost nothing about sustainable building. Look for new posts every Monday. You can email Amy at or leave a comment here.

Image of puzzle pieces courtesy Pixabay. is the first online literary journal of place, publishing award-winning literature, art, editorials, and community case studies since 1998.