Is it possible to design a highly-efficient, durable, and affordable house in a rural location? All too often, quality of design suffers due to budget constraints, and sustainability becomes an item buried on a long-forgotten wish list. Realizing the need to integrate sustainable initiatives with high-quality housing designs in rural locations, the Dyron Murphy Architects team set out to develop a housing prototype that Native Housing Authorities across the country could adapt to meet their needs. The resulting project was the DMA “EcoHouse”.
Community, culture and sustainability – our first project celebrating Native American Heritage Month is a true example of how design can be influenced by local culture to produce a beautiful and highly-functional facility. Baca Dlo’ay Azhi Community School in Prewitt, New Mexico was one of the first education projects designed by Dyron Murphy Architects, and it was the first LEED certified building in New Mexico.
From the overall footprint of the building to the imprinted detailing on the walls, Baca Dlo’ay Azhi demonstrates the importance of local influences on building design.
The DMA team drew inspiration from Diné culture, symbolically incorporating functions and colors associated with the Circle of Life into the project design. The main entry faces east toward Mt. Taylor, which is one of the four sacred mountains to the Diné people. Other design elements addressed the four sacred directions with the four wings of the building radiating from a central core. At the central core is the library where students and staff can gather under the light of a central skylight.
To connect the building to the site, the spaces between building elements are landscaped with native plants, creating an interplay between the man-made and natural worlds. Corn motifs are imprinted on exterior walls, noting another significant element in Diné culture.
Baca Dlo’ay Azhi Community School received a White House Closing the Circle Award Honorable Mention, Sustainable/Green Buildings Category, in 2005. The school also received the Department of the Interior Energy Award in 2004.
Learn more about our Native and Education projects on our website.
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As a Native American-owned firm, Dyron Murphy Architects spends each day celebrating the unique and vibrant cultures of Native people across the country through our architecture. We are honored to collaborate with Native communities to understand their history and culture, and use … Continue reading
The Dine’ name for Albuquerque is “the place of buildings with church bells on top.” The early Navajo people gave it that name because they noticed that at the time, it was community with a lot churches and public buildings with bells on the roof. They also could see the bells on top of the church buildings in the distance and used it as a guide to travel to Albuquerque to trade, sell at the market place or to visit a family member in the hospital.
It is now used as a descriptive word to describe a location in conjunction with Albuquerque, such as Old Town, a house or even a hospital in Albuquerque.
Word Breakdown- “Be’eldííl”- ringing bells, “Dah”- high up above, “Sinil”- it is placed or positioned.
Bob Borson covers the “unglamorous” side of architecture pretty well. Of course we’d all love to be sketching and drafting and designing all day long, but that’s just not happening. If you haven’t read his article – you should. If only so that you’ll realize that there’s a whole lot of other stuff that has to get done in an average architects’ day.
We’re not interested in complaining though – hat’s off to you, Bob, for building a successful niche for yourself, juggling the two sides of architecture, and managing to blog consistently.
More to the point, though. All architects, (or the good ones, at least) take the time to get to know their clients so that the final design is unique to the person(s) who will inhabit it. In our case, we have an extra step in working with our Native clientele. Not only do we need to get to know the individuals directing the project from the client side, we also have to understand the unique culture of the community. The process of discovering a client’s culture – their history, traditions, community values and visions – is the best part of our job.