ASU Del Webb School presents adobe brick designs for home building
March 29, 2017
Gila River Indian News
Arizona State University Del E. Webb School of Construction, in collaboration with the Gila River Indian Community, share a common vision of building homes out of adobe brick.
During a presentation at the GRIC governance center on March 29, Gov. Stephen Roe Lewis and Gila River Indian Utility Authority (GRICUA) Chairman John Lewis talked about the idea of building homes out of adobe brick, and how the ASU school of construction is reviving the traditional form of home building in a more contemporary setting.
Wanda Dalla Costa, a visiting Eminent Scholar from the Saddle Lake First Nation in Northern Alberta, has an interest in working with the Community to build interest in making indigenous studies of traditional homes a part of the curriculum at ASU.
At the center of the project, the goal is to embed indigenous architecture within today’s approaches to building modern homes.
Costa said, “Our initial discussion led to a number of different activities. We sat down and tried to understand the Community’s priorities and what was important.”
Native ASU students took part in the development of the conceptual design of the sustainable home, took care to incorporate areas for gardening to promote food sovereignty and external structures like a vato, which is often used for shade and gathering places.
Costa showed a video that walks through the conceptual adobe home. The video, which was developed by Ryan Bowman and BriAnn Laban, a member of the Hopi tribe, provided the science behind the use of adobe bricks.
A benefit to using earthen materials like adobe bricks is its high thermal mass, meaning it can store heat during those cold winter days and keeps the interior cool during hot summer months.
GRICUA Chairman Lewis said it’s about improving the quality of life and lowering the cost of utilities to homeowners.
“There is also a cultural component. So there is a part of bringing to bear some of our cultural and traditional values in terms of building materials,” said John.
During the visit, Costa presented Gov. Lewis with a conceptual design of an adobe home that reflects the traditional ki structure used by the Huhugam.
Gov. Lewis said the designs are a good way of demonstrating where the Community would like to be with sustainable housing and that it is important to provide energy efficient homes that are easy on the owner’s wallet.
He said the collaboration with ASU, puts everything into an analytical frame of mind with what the Community is doing to plan for future development of energy efficient infrastructure and serves as a model for other tribes.
Dalla Costa said an exact cost for the price of building one unit has not been determined, because the project is still in the conceptual stage of gathering more input from the Community.
In the interim, a sustainable housing initiative survey has been developed between the Governor’s office, the ASU School of Construction and GRICUA.
The survey will identify ways to design and build sustainable homes in the Community and needs tribal members input to help with the initiative.
GRICUA invites Community members to take the survey, which will enter each participant a chance to win one of eight $25 Harkins Theater gift tickets.
There are two ways Community members can take the survey, which can be found on www.gricua.net.
The second option is stopping by one of the Community’s seven district service centers and picking up a copy of the survey.
Once the hard copy has been completed, individual can return the survey to the district service center or drop it off directly at the GRICUA offices by 4 p.m. on April 28.