Jan '12 - Aug '13
This weekend, 10 students from UC Denver presented their ideas for the design of the Billjohn Residence near Montezuma Creek, UT as a part of their design-build education in partnership with Design Build Bluff, a non-profit organization designing and building sustainable housing on the Navajo Nation near Bluff, UT.
We had met the Billjohn's back in February and spent the day with them at their home site as well as touring and viewing the previous DBB projects. We got to know them a little bit through our conversations that day but were out of contact with them during a large part of our design process. They are a very quiet couple and were not very vocal in their needs. We were very unsure about some of the design options we were presenting to them. Of course we were rushing to complete the model and printed the drawings in the late hours the night before the meeting.
On Saturday morning we brought them to the DBB campus in Bluff and presented our design ideas. We walked them through the design inspiration and process and showed the floor plan options and siding options we came up with. They were very happy with the designs and were deliberate and vocal about what they liked and needed. This was a great relief to us and was very encouraging. Afterwards a few of the students carried on the conversation with the Billjohns in a more private setting. This seemed to help them relax and be more forthcoming about their desires for their new home. The best part was when she smiled when she realized that what we designed connected with what they wanted.
They took us our to their site and we staked out the floor plan while they helped us site the home in just the right spot. We drew inspiration from the shade house they had previously built and knew that they had a great wisdom about the climate there. The way in which they sited the house helped confirm our hypothesis about solar performance and heat gains. It was very exciting to see our design ideas match up with their innate knowledge of the land and climate they come from.
We scavenged at the DBB campus junkyard, taking dimensions and photos of materials we want to use. Now the task of constructions documents and donations is looming. On a limited budget with an ambitious design, it should be an exciting challenge to raise the funds to give the Billjohns the best home we can.
Thanks to the U of U students who are currently building a house for hosting us, letting us crash in the house and for putting on an awesome dance party. Good luck in the next few weeks.
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