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  • The University of Utah

    College of Architecture + Planning

    375 S. 1530 E., Rm. 332 Arch

    SLC, UT 84112

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    Ever adapting

    This 730 sqft "open floor plan" residence for a small family in the Mexican Water chapter of Navajo Nation is affectionately named Badger Springs after a nearby water source. The design blends with the sweeping desert vistas and is focused on delivering adaptability of use within a small foot print. A study originally begun to explore affordable and easily repeatable alternatives to the preexisting housing stock of the area, gained more refined customization as the students learned about their clients. As part of her charitable work to the community the matriarch of the family aids local victims of domestic violence. The idea that visitors would come to the home seeking healing and recovery motivated and directed the design team. This manifests through flexible and protected open space, both inside and out, that easily allows gathering of various sizes. The material palette intends to give an impression of tactility and warmth, echoing the clients affinity towards what has been coined a "rustic modern" aesthetic. Informed by the clients' deep knowledge of prevailing wind direction and sun path, a combination of satin aluminum door and window coverings, a cellulose-insulated chase wall, and recessed window planes ensure that minimal direct sunlight enters the home during summer months, drastically reducing solar gain and enhancing passive cooling and ventilation. Protruding well out into the landscape, a large overhang to the East provides protection from the elements as well as covers a natural plaster wall, toned red according to the locally sourced sand and clay. Exterior façade decisions were based on a material’s ability to adapt to its environment, whether transforming and adapting through time or staying constant and unchanging. The functional program was situated around the idea that the space would conform to the client’s changing needs. The kitchen, featuring a recycled PaperStone countertop, runs linear along the north wall illuminated by overhead clerestory windows. The exterior plaster wall carries into the interior and frames a wood burning stove that doubles as a second cook top. To reinforce the home’s ability to maintain open space, consideration was taken to incorporate a large floor-to-ceiling built-in storage system that runs along the majority of the southern wall. Interior finishes include douglas fir tongue and groove slats salvaged from a mixture of old telephone poles, timber scraps, and remnants of bleacher seating from an old baseball diamond. Two robust sliding barn doors conceal the bathroom and pantry storage, accented by black metal hardware. Thanks to GRID Alternatives Tribal Program the project is outfitted with grid-tied photo-voltaic panels.


    University of Utah Students

    Nathan Blair, Danny Carmen, Kirk Chadwick, Barton Done, Tommy Hancock, Josh Riffe, Spencer Swalberg, Megan Wayment, Jeremy White, Hangfei Zhang, and Shuo Zhao