Design Build Bluff
Location : Bluff, Utah
Living Space : 1,300 Square Feet
Completion : 2007
General Contractor : University of Utah Architecture Program
Modern Navajo Desert Dwelling | Bluff, UT
Bluff, Utah is where the three Imbue cofounders first fanned our now fiery passion for crafting residential architecture. In the first year of our Masters Program at the University of Utah we were introduced to a college sanctioned housing program called Design Build Bluff. Along with eight other architecture students we traveled south to the remote town of Bluff, Utah, just outside the Navajo Reservation where substandard housing is the norm. There we met Dora and Baxter, our truly first clients, who were living in a 12'x12' shed without running water or bathroom facilities.
Over the course of a semester we designed a them a home based on their feedback from three proposals. The next semester we again traveled south, this time to build with our own hands the home we had designed with Dora and Baxter.
The home's round walls nods to the circular shape of a hogan, the traditional Navajo dwelling. The straight walls align with the Four Sacred Mountains, landmarks established by the gods to delineate the boundaries of the sacred land they'd given to the Navajo people. Resting at the point where these lines converge is the hearth, the center of living, literally marking Dora and Baxter's place within the universe.
The home was built largely with repurposed materials including: rejected road base for the earthen bricks, locally gathered tires for earth retaining, gravel pit screens for the soffit, and recycled school cork boards for the ceiling finish.
With solar panels, well water, and a septic system, Dora's utilities are virtually nonexistent.
Many thanks to Hank Louise, Mitch McCombe, the DBB Crew, and most importantly to Dora and our late friend Baxter.