Article Image

IPFS News Link • Architecture

Desert dream home quest in Bluff: locally sourced, passive A/C

•, Kirsten Dirksen

They've built dozens of homes testing earthen plasters, recycled plastics, shipping containers and pallets. Located at the edge of the Navajo Nation, they have also merged their investigations with traditional craft to build with owners on tribal land.

"Sweet Caroline" (2006) is round like a traditional hogan with an eastern entrance, but instead of earthen plasters, they used Flex-crete, a fly-ash (coal-burning power plant by-product) material produced in the Navajo Nation. "Benally" (2007) was constructed with "rejected road base material that matched perfectly the sand/clay/aggregate ratio necessary to make non-stabilized (no added concrete) compressed earth blocks". 

Making the central hearth the focal point (as in a traditional Navajo home) the passive solar compressed earth block walls were built to point directly from the hearth toward the four sacred mountains (fundamental to the land). The roof shading acts as a traditional "shade house".

"Rosie Joe" (2004) incorporated "a rammed-earth Trombe wall for temperature regulation; a south-facing wall glazed with salvaged and gang-mulled windows; weathered wood; the ceiling and roof structure made entirely from recycled pallets; exterior walls of straw sandwiched by clear acrylic; interior walls clad with discarded road signs."