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    College of Architecture + Planning

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    Adobe in the House!

    Drywall is going up, insulation is in, roofing is going on, siding is going up, and the adobe floor is going down – so many things are happening! The worksite is crowded these days, with a slew a volunteers on their way this week and next. With all the tasks happening simultaneously, sequencing everyone becomes a task in and of itself. Katja and Shane, our heroic managers, have held down the fort all semester and continue to adapt as new tasks are brought to the table.

    sifting our materials

    back to the floors

    For me, this session has breathed new life into the floor conversation. Last week was spent harvesting clay, whipping up batches of adobe and refining our proportions, and is about to culminate in a whirl of excitement as we host an adobe floor workshop on site in collaboration with the Dennehotso Sweat Equity Project. More to come on that, but first – the testing!

    refining the recipes

    refining the recipes

    We were able to find some beautiful purple clay to use for the floor and went to town last week trying out different recipes. The base consists of sand from our site (very excited to use some site materials!), clay, straw, and water. Mainly refining the sand-to-clay proportions we arrived at what we are hoping is going to be a successful base layer to be installed beginning Thursday. The base will be installed in two – 2” lifts, with a finish layer laid at the very end of the build.


    For the workshop we are intending to explain the process we’ve gone through thus far, the mixing, testing, and installation process, and what the advantages/disadvantages are to adobe floors compared to other common materials. Carmierae has reached out to the Dennehotso community and her partners in DSEP, and is hoping to bring quite a crowd to the site on Thursday. This is not only an exciting opportunity to share our experiences and pump up natural building practices, but also to get folks excited for Sweat Equity on the whole.

    our beautiful clay

    our beautiful clay

    After talking to Carmierae today, I finally got a feel for how much weight is on her shoulders in establishing this new program. Although adopted in many other parts of the country, the sweat equity model has yet to be fully adopted on Navajo. The process of bring such a new endeavor up to compliance sounds to be an incredibly daunting task, and I am consistently humbled to play a small part in laying the groundwork.

    Eric Blyth & Matt Myers