Eight graduate students from the University of Colorado at Denver were very busy last spring designing and building the latest house for the Design Build Bluff design/build program in southeastern Utah - and the home was completed in an impressive 80 days with recycled materials for a cost of only $25,000! The Nakai House is a 745 sq ft home for Lorraine Nakai set in the Navajo Nation. Designed around her sizable collection of books, the small home features interesting ideas about the use of space and flexibility.
Design Build Bluff is a design/build program that gives architecture grad students the chance to get some hands-on experience while building a home for a person in the Navajo Nation. The latest home was completed by James Anderson, David Hevesi, Zia Hooker, Courtney Huges, Milen Milev, Cam Minor, Michelle Polock and Josh Young from the University of Colorado at Denver. They selected Lorraine Nakai as the recipient of the home and worked closely with her to build her the home of her dreams, all on a small budget of $25,000. Lorraine treasures books and has an impressive collection, which she wanted to incorporate into her new home. She was also open to creative solutions for her bedroom and living spaces, which allowed the team to create a comfortable and efficient home in only 745 sq ft.
Oriented to the north and south, the home is built next to a couple of other homes and to create a protected, shared courtyard. The western facade features small, tight windows made from reclaimed skyscraper spandrel and a protected face that shields the home from colder winds in the winter and the hot sun in the summer. The east facade is more open, but it’s still protected with a large overhanging roof. Operable windows on both sides allow for natural cross ventilation to keep the home cool.
Inside, the home is organized around a 50-ft long book shelf spine where Lorraine stores her collection. The kitchen sits on the north end, there is a living area next to a fire place and finally a more private space on the south end. One bed is tucked into the book shelf, while another is located in the loft and accessed via a staircase in the closet. This untraditional arrangement is perfect for Lorraine, who lives by herself, but has two children who come to visit. Pop-out windows and reading nooks create a greater connection with the outdoors and give the feeling of being outside while protected inside. The Nakai House is practical and beautiful and explores flexible and unconventional space arrangements to make the most of a small space.
Images ©Scot Zimmerman