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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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    Earthen floor workshop day!!

    Today all of us were excited to get to the site as soon as possible because we had special guests. Many Navajo community and family members came to site for our earthen floor workshop which was organized by Eric and Matthew. Diego wanted to join the crew today but unfortunately he and Scott had to stay back and cook. . . maybe next time!  We started in two
    groups, the exterior team with four people and the earthen floor team with the rest of the crew. Katja’s mom and sister were also on site today and made a great addition to our team.


    Katja and her family

    Rigid insulation was a priority in the morning and was cut and placed in the southern half the house so it was ready for the earthen floor to go on top of it after lunch. When the guests arrived, Matthew and Eric explained and demonstrated the process of how the earthen floor is done. They also talked about the pros and cons and different finishes of the floor. They had examples brought to the site for people to understand more clearly how adding different portions of water, sand, or clay would affect the final product.


    Eric and Matthew demonstrating the process

    Lunch time was really fun because we all gathered around at a few tables and got to know many of the members of the community who came. They were so kind and excited about our project. The food (burgers and hot dogs on Navajo fry bread, chips, cookies, and drinks) was awesome and gave everyone energy to continue the rest of the day. Our client gave a short speech after lunch which was very touching. She talked about the long and difficult process she went through to be able to finally have a nice home. She further talked about how excited she gets every day when she sees us and she cannot thank us enough because we are making her happy. Most of us had tears in our eyes because we know we are heading toward the finish line – in May when we have to say goodbye we will not have the pleasure of seeing our clients every day. We have become like a family, every day we get happy when we see them and on Fridays when our client makes us homemade food and her delicious Navajo bread, we think how lucky we are to be working for such amazing people. The speech opened our eyes to see what is really important and how our efforts mean so much to some people. It teaches us to be grateful for what we have in life and to pursue a career in the future that will make a contribution to the life of those people who really need support.


    Our client posing with the delicious cupcake

    After lunch, we continued our process. On the other side of the house the exterior team was putting up the Coulson cedar siding donated from Capital Lumber, which is already looking amazing. Many people mentioned how beautiful the cedar looks. Lauren and Matt continued work on the roof, staining rafter tails and installing furring strips for the metal roof to be installed.  The rest of the team started bringing the earthen floor mixture into the house and tamping and spreading it evenly. While the process was being done our guests were observing and asking questions they had.


    The exterior team installing the beautiful Coulson Cedar from capital Lumber

    Nearing the end of our working day, our guests dispersed and we were left to finish the job with our clients helping and encouraging us with their warm smiles. It is their smile and the way they interact with us that gives us so much energy even at the end of our working day.

    We returned to campus hungry, despite the wonderful lunch we’d been treated to, and chowed down on delicious ground beef burritos made by our chefs, Diego and Scott.  We reminisced on the day with our bellies and hearts full.

    Mojdeh & Lauren