No Grid in Sight

written by:
photos by:
February 26, 2009
Originally published in A New Shade of Green

Most deserts are dry and dusty expanses of blue skies, bleached soil, and rulerflat horizons. The Colorado Plateau is not one of them. This is a land of stunning contradictions, where thousand-foot rock monoliths jut like raised fists from flat riverbeds, and traffic-light-green foliage glows on stoplight-red soil. The sky here appears not blue but bright white, a flashbulb burst through squinted eyes.

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  • 
  Architect Hank Louis worked with Navajo tribe elders to secure a 66-year lease on a half-acre lot in the middle of Bluf, Utah, for Rosie Joe and her children.
    Architect Hank Louis worked with Navajo tribe elders to secure a 66-year lease on a half-acre lot in the middle of Bluf, Utah, for Rosie Joe and her children.
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  Entirely off the grid, the house is powered by four photovoltaic panels that supply electricity to lights, small appliances, and water pumps.
    Entirely off the grid, the house is powered by four photovoltaic panels that supply electricity to lights, small appliances, and water pumps.
  • 
  Rosie Joe weaves a traditional Navajo rug.
    Rosie Joe weaves a traditional Navajo rug.
  • 
  DesignBuildBLUFF’s 2007 team put the finishing touches on their latest project.
    DesignBuildBLUFF’s 2007 team put the finishing touches on their latest project.
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  Kitchen and living room walls were constructed of clear and white acrylic panels stuffed with straw to allow for natural ventilation and light to filter softly into the house. The walls leaked after the first winter and the straw sank down in the frames. Students returned to the site, sealed and filled the walls with Styrofoam (leaving the straw-fill in the kitchen as is).
    Kitchen and living room walls were constructed of clear and white acrylic panels stuffed with straw to allow for natural ventilation and light to filter softly into the house. The walls leaked after the first winter and the straw sank down in the frames. Students returned to the site, sealed and filled the walls with Styrofoam (leaving the straw-fill in the kitchen as is).
  • 
  Nicholas sits in the shade of the roof; students cut and hand-welded thousands of reclaimed rebar pieces into a complex grid that would support four bi-level 
corrugated-steel roof panels.
    Nicholas sits in the shade of the roof; students cut and hand-welded thousands of reclaimed rebar pieces into a complex grid that would support four bi-level corrugated-steel roof panels.
  • 
  In wintertime, the rammed earth hallway wall serves as the central heating device, soaking up sunlight through south-facing windows and distributing warmth throughout the house. A wood-burning stove at the end of the front hallway provides additional heat for cold winter nights.
    In wintertime, the rammed earth hallway wall serves as the central heating device, soaking up sunlight through south-facing windows and distributing warmth throughout the house. A wood-burning stove at the end of the front hallway provides additional heat for cold winter nights.
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