Installing Cotton Insulation!!!!!!! Girls do all the messy work!

Doin the Door!!!

New door installed and dreamcatcher/firecatcher/cooling tower / chimney

This week on the house…..

Winter is finally making its way to Bluff.  Mornings have required us to get out our winter gear and layer up–until the sun comes out that is–then the layers come off and all is okay until clouds appear or the sun begins to set.  Inside the house is another story…no direct sunlight = cold.  But luckily we have our sleek rocket-heater to warm us up.

Cladding continues to move along and is beginning to beautify the exterior of our house.  Yesterday we installed our first door and earlier in the week we put in the majority of the winows…just in time to shield us from the harsher weather.  Wiring for electric and plumbing are also works in progress.  The windcatcher contiues to grow.   Luckily the new ladder we put in allows for easier access.

Cheers from Bluff,

Nina & Jessica       (hi mom and dad–happy now?)


Due to the need to work with the sun, DBB has declared its own time zone and so far we are sticking with the early departures. With the roof on and windows and insulation going in, the house is actually starting to feel like shelter; yesterday we started a kerosene heater and actually had some scant warmth inside, but there are still myriad details to attend to before we have a fully weather tight envelope. Not least of which is the windcatcher, with its roof, plumbing and damper yet to be built. Meanwhile, exterior cladding, kitchen and electrical work continue; with people working on so many different jobs hopefully we can take advantage of our numbers to make good progress this week.


… in a way.  What looks like a relatively tedious or boring process of cutting metal flashing around the chimney can become a small moment of zen.  I used to make lots of origami as a child after receiving a gift of paper from my parents; in retrospect, it may have been a distraction from creating paper airplanes to attach fireworks to, but I came to love the simple folding of paper into a something entirely different.  I can still recall the thrill of taking a crisp, perfect sheet of exotic paper and following instructions until a three dimensional flower, frog or crane appeared from what was just a flat square.  It’s one of the reasons I am drawn to architecture – I love the melding of mind and hand, the creation of something from idea to three-dimensional reality – one of the many reasons we’re here as architecture students in Bluff, UT.

I’ve heard it said that origami is the ultimate “non-western” art because instead of focusing on the placement of an image or design on a sheet of paper, it creases and folds the paper until it is the image; the paper is elevated beyond mere surface into art.  One of the lessons I’ve learned is that in the act of making a house (what we think of as final product) there are many small acts of creation each with their own craft and merit that are never seen in the final image; construction first-hand will instill a healthy respect for construction trades and crafts.

A simple piece of metal becomes a marriage of folding, cutting, bending that now protects from water and becomes art. Perhaps not too lofty a goal for a piece of 20″x24″ galvanized metal after all.

The DBB Experience:


straddle |ˈstradl| verb: to comfortably ride while maintaining a presence on both sides or maintain an equivocal position which is ultimately untenable.

Now well past the half-way mark of construction, we are shifting from an exterior to an interior focus, yet we are neither done with the exterior nor fully engaged with interior work.   We’ve made a lot of progress and had our share of frustration.  We all came here to learn how architectural design translates into built reality: the details, the physical labor, and the pratfalls; we’ve also come to learn much more: hopefully a bit of acculturation, an appreciation for the world beyond an architectural understanding and perhaps a slight glimpse at how architecture can impact lives for the better.  We attempt to balance time, work and play walking a line which converges with all of them, yet difficult to balance on and which we all ask ourselves the question: “Which side do I fall on?”

A few weeks ago we watched “Citizen Architect”, a documentary on the Rural Studio.  Discussion was robust afterwards as was the inspiration from seeing the success and impact of a program very similar to the one we are currently engaged in.  The film asked many questions, most unanswerable in brief terms:  what is the role of an architect?  what are the social responsibilities?  what is a home?  what purpose does it fill?  what is the purpose of architecture?  how does architectural education provide the opportunity to answer these questions?

The modern architectural education leans hard toward the theorization of the profession while eschewing construction and divorcing itself from the realities of budget, time and space.  It teaches us to be a bit too wordy and perhaps not enough worldly.  Yet this untenable system of education has created opportunity in the voids: dbB, and programs like it, fill a unique but necessary role in our education as architects: it straddles the line between theory and reality, design and construction, mind and hand.  A glimpse of what a “master builder” should be.

The temptation to segregate the role of builder from the role of architect leaves us unbalanced in the end, estranged from the realities of design.  As students and now practitioners, we hope to be both designers and builders, thoughtful and productive, and to straddle comfortably the role of architect.

Lots of Progress

Beginning this process 11 weeks ago seems like a long time but feels like it was yesterday. As we moved past the halfway mark, I began to realize how much we have all changed. We began as student. Without much confidence in our decisions and our abilities. Consistently asking questions and opinions of anyone who would listen or know the answer. As I look around the site this week, I definitely do not see insecure students but budding professionals that have gained confidence in their techniques and themselves to make decisions without consultation. Everyone is working on different projects with a small group and without much help from our instructors and aids here. It is not that we don’t appreciate their help but we have learned how to answer our own questions. Whether it be with research or experimentation. Our group has matured and come along way from where we began. Those couple months and quick days have changed us more then we might realize. I cannot wait to see how much better it gets over the last couple weeks of the semester.

The house progress in week 7

Continuing progress week 8

Cayla and Jessica are working hard at putting the wrap on.

Beginning the house wrap on our way to getting "dried In"

south exterior door using a reclaimed door and donated 3 form

interior framing is done – private zone – bedrooms

home made clerestories

the house is all covered in osb and roofed

Climbing up Ladders

This trip is all about going vertical. 2×4’s are falling off the roof – literally!! Secondary walls are up and finally sheathed, and the roof is almost complete! Time to move indoors where the interior walls are going up. It is obvious that the house is starting to come together spatially. BUT – there’s always a “but”- the rain is leaving puddles on the slab and so we pass the torch to Dom to seal us in with windows and doors and to the cladding with their highly anticipated rain screen system.

Amber and Jocelyn

Sunrise in Chaco Canyon

Roof and Rafter Tails

Maurice’s Halloween Costume

Eric what are you doing??

Lovely Deck Detail