I have opened this new topic to begin a conversation about adapting existing vernacular earth sheltered architecture, particularly Native American designs, such as pit houses, earth lodges, hogans and kivas.
One modern option I came across was Tony Wrench's ReciFrame Green Roof. You could, perhaps, also use a beefed-up yurt style roof design, using a compression ring. You would need to get the engineering and construction right on both of those designs as failure of a small component could lead to catastrophic failure of the entire roof.
I am going to include numerous links to pique interest and discussion:
Here is a link to the book, Native American Architecture on Amazon.com, where used copies are available starting at around $10:
I have also seen this book available on ebay.com
Here is the description:
Publication Date: October 25, 1990 | ISBN-10: 0195066650 | ISBN-13: 978-0195066654
For many people, Native American architecture calls to mind the wigwam, tipi, iglu, and pueblo. Yet the richly diverse building traditions of Native Americans encompass much more, including specific structures for sleeping, working, worshipping, meditating, playing, dancing, lounging, giving birth, decision-making, cleansing, storing and preparing food, caring for animals, and honoring the dead. In effect, the architecture covers all facets of Indian life.
The collaboration between an architect and an anthropologist, Native American Architecture presents the first book-length, fully illustrated exploration of North American Indian architecture to appear in over a century.
Peter Nabokov and Robert Easton together examine the building traditions of the major tribes in nine regional areas of the continent from the huge plank-house villages of the Northwest Coast to the moundbuilder towns and temples of the Southeast, to the Navajo hogans and adobe pueblos of the Southwest.
Going beyond a traditional survey of buildings, the book offers a broad, clear view into the Native American world, revealing a new perspective on the interaction between their buildings and culture. Looking at Native American architecture as more than buildings, villages, and camps, Nabokov and Easton also focus on their use of space, their environment, their social mores, and their religious beliefs.
Each chapter concludes with an account of traditional Indian building practices undergoing a revival or in danger today. The volume also includes a wealth of historical photographs and drawings (including sixteen pages of color illustrations), architectural renderings, and specially prepared interpretive diagrams which decode the sacred cosmology of the principal house types.
Interesting and sad to find out that the old, moldy rejected post Hurricane Katrina FEMA trailers ended up housing people here.
I was surprised that they say they will be pouring concrete floors for these new homes.
Perhaps someone can share about earthen floors with them >
AND even tell them about rocket mass heaters and under floor heating with RMH!
Adding passive solar (plus a few Oehler tricks) and you have a pretty good energy free heat/cool design.
Being able to build an earth sheltered home without hundreds of yards of concrete would be really nice.
see Hogan (disambiguation).
The evolution of the hogan as of the 1930s.
A hogan (play /ˈhoʊɡɑːn/ or /ˈhoʊɡən/; from Navajo hooghan [hoːɣan]) is the primary traditional home of the Navajo people. Other traditional structures include the summer shelter, the underground home, and the sweat house. A hogan is usually round and cone-shaped, but they may also be square. A traditional hogan is made of wood and packed mud and earth in varying amounts, with the door facing east to welcome the rising sun for good wealth and fortune.
]] Today, while some older hogans are still used as dwellings and others are maintained for ceremonial purposes, new hogans are rarely intended as family dwellings.
Traditional structured hogans are also considered pioneers of energy efficient homes. Using packed mud against the entire wood structure, the home was kept cool by natural air ventilation and water sprinkled on the dirt ground inside. During the winter, the fireplace kept the inside warm for a long period of time and well into the night. This concept is called Thermal Mass.
1 Modern Application and Revival
2 In other languages
3 See also
5 External links
Modern Application and Revival
The preference of hogan construction and use is still very popular among the Navajos, although the use of it as a home shelter dwindled through the 1900's, due mainly by the requirement by many Navajos to acquire homes built through government and lender funding - which largely ignored the hogan-style and the sacred space - in preference for low cost, low bid HUD-standardized construction.
With government and lender requirements requiring low costs, as well as bathrooms and kitchens, the hogan as a person's home was dwindling away, save for those who could build their own. That began to officially change in the late 1990's with various small projects to find ways to bring the hogan back. In 2001, it began changing significantly with a joint-venture of a partnership involving the Navajo Nation, Northern Arizona University, the US Forest Service and other private and public partners - to begin manufacturing and building log hogans from a Navajo-majority owned log home factory in Cameron, Arizona next to the Cameron Chapter House. Using surplus small-diameter wood being culled out of the Northern Arizona forests to mitigate devastating wildfires, and with a series of meetings between elders, medicine men, and project leaders - a log hogan revival is being born on the Navajo Nation. While keeping the sacred space of the hogan relatively untouched, and also meeting the requirements for modern home amenities, an ancient tradition is now once again beginning to flourish. Along with assuring the survival of a cultural heritage, this project has also created new jobs, summer school construction experience for Navajo teens, public buildings, and much more.
Also from Owen Geiger, here is a link to dozens of plans, some are variations of Native Indigenous designs.
Owen has said that these plans can be built with many materials, other than earthbags.
As a person scrolls down they will see an Earthlodge, Sacred Mountain, round houses, hexagons, spirals, and other design ideas we could discuss. Some of these have attached greenhouses and passive solar.
Yes, building shelters such as these with materials other than concrete is my dream, for sure!
ANOTHER innovative building material is UBUNTU BLOX, using the ever present plastic trash, by turning it into building blocks, which only weigh about two pounds each.
Their blog is very detailed with many photos and instructions of each stage of building
Maybe someone here with a google account could email her and ask her to come here and talk with us about her experiences.
Such a good feeling when inside of them.
Third picture of a dug-out, dome house at the same location.
I have been in some kiva restorations and reproductions. They were surprisingly well lit inside. Haven't been in a pit house yet. There is a female hogan and a small male hogan at an outdoor museum near here, built by some Navajo's who live here locally and volunteer at the museum on holidays. Someone had also built a wickiup, but it blew away in a windstorm (a very strong windstorm).
The pima ki is also an interesting pit house design. It only shares the dug out floor and four-post frame of the other pit house designs. It uses bent saplings rather than timbers to form the walls. It looks like an inverted straw bowl with a short berm around the bottom of the wall and a clay cap.
Large timber is pretty scarce in the desert around here. It is mostly juniper and pinyon, grasses and brush with pine and fir in the mountains and some cottonwoods, box elder and willows near water. I find designs that minimize the use of wood to be appealing.
It used to be you could get permits to clear diseased trees from the mountains, but that stopped years ago with the new generation of administrators. Great for the pine beetle and raging forest fires, if you like that sort of thing.
I have some land in the mountains of Wyoming where I am planning to build a Hogan someday. I think a hogan built from 8 to 10 ft logs would be fairly easy to build and could be expanded by building hogans next to each other to form any number of interesting geometric patterns.
Here is a demonstration hogan that was built at a university in Colorado. I believe that it has since been destroyed to make way for student housing. Too bad, I would have loved to tour it.
Here is a Wyoming anecdote: A friend of mine tells of a roommate she had from Wyoming. One night, she found her roommate staring out the window at some falling snow, awestruck. She asked her why she found snow so fascinating. Being from Wyoming, surely she had seen snow before. She explained, she didn't know that snow could fall straight down.
My parents tell a story of how they had to stay overnight in a town in Wyoming because the highway (this was before I-80 was built) was closed by a blizzard. When they woke the next morning, there was a pile of very fine snow, blasted by the wind into the consistency of powdered sugar, just inside the bottom of the door to their motel room.
You may want to adapt the hogan to the Wyoming winds by covering it like an earth lodge, or build an earth lodge. Either would probably work.
The female hogan with corbeled roof is a good design for short poles, like those you get from juniper and pinyon pine. If you have access to lodgepole pine of sufficient diameter, you might consider an earth lodge, but you would still need to find heavy timbers for the four-post support frame.
This is what we use in Wyoming as a windsock.
I would be using larger diameter pine, like what is used in log cabins. What are the 4 support poles you speak of? All of the hogans I have looked at just stack the logs up and into a dome like roof, which is self supporting.
Still thinking about if I will chink the gaps or cover the whole thing with cob or earth berm the north side with large windows on the south or what.
A female hogan and some kivas use a corbeled log roof. The corbeled roof does not need a four-post frame.
Large logs would make a good frame for an earth lodge.
Search for "native american" and "earth lodge" or "pit house" on the internet to find photos, drawings and descriptions.
If you are dead set on a female hogan, which shouldn't be a problem, you would want to insulate and berm the North side and the side with the prevailing wind in Winter. You could use natural insulation, or something more modern. Do the same on the roof, but only put as much dirt as it can handle easily, keeping in mind potential snow loads.
You might also want to keep in mind the mechanics of drifting snow. It would be a bummer if your entrance was blocked by a snow drift. You might want to include a vestibule. Remember, the hogan design is as variable as there are builders and building sites. Adapt to your circumstances.
Andrew Parker wrote:Re: the Yurt. I found the spliced rafters truly frightening, especially as they began loading them with mud. Otherwise, the design looks interesting."
Yes, I thought the same thing about those spliced rafters not holding up under heavy weight.
It was the dug out and straw bale ideas which attracted my eyes.
I think the "sacred geometry" thing is a bit much. Any resemblance to an earth lodge is purely symbolic, but if you take a look through the site at the design and construction details, you can get some good ideas for adapting the earth lodge design to contemporary living.
Also, I think it would be good to review Tony Wrench's site, http://www.thatroundhouse.info
The Reciprocal Frame roof is intriguing. I am not sure it is better or worse than other clear span options. Given the amount of weight the roof may have to carry, worse if snow drifts build up on one side of the roof, I would find the massive four-post support frame reassuring. I am not a fan of the catastrophic failure of heavy roofs, especially ones I, or those I care for, may be living under.
His green roof technique might keep an earth lodge viable for many more years than was traditionally seen.
What is your interest in these dwellings? Spiritual? Practical shelter? Curiosity?
Any of those are certainly valid. I would say mine is a combination of curiosity and practical shelter. I don't ascribe anything spiritual to it, as it isn't my culture or belief system, though, out of respect, I might shy away from building a kiva, given its sacred position in Hopi and Pueblo culture. If I really wanted to build one, I would ask someone in those communities if they felt it was alright. I suppose if I left out certain details, like the sipapu, it might be acceptable.
Single structure or cluster?
Most of these designs are small to medium sized, round or rounded, single rooms. Maybe OK for one or two people, but family that is not raised in it may have some serious trouble adjusting to more than short stays. The large earth lodges are the exception. I am partial to them, first, because their size allows separate rooms to be partitioned around the periphery, and second, I like the high roof in the center with the smoke hole letting in a good amount of light. (The problem is similar to geodesic domes. Medium sized domes are awkward to subdivide. Small domes are, well, small. Large domes are great, but they have a large footprint and won't work on most lots, unless you can cover most of the lot. Clusters of small and medium sized domes have worked successfully.)
Some of the earth lodges had smaller lodges built outside the periphery, accessed from inside the main lodge through short tunnels. These housed more private sleeping areas or storage. There may be more than one attached lodge and large lodges could also be attached.
The Great Kiva at Aztec Ruins has a ring of large rooms, each with separate outside access as well as separate access to the main kiva. Its roof also rested on four main support pillars, though the roof was flat, rather than a domed corbeled roof or the conical earth lodge roof.
The "earth Lodge" I referenced in my last post was simply a stylized representation of a traditional earth lodge. I am not a fan of such designs, though they seem to be very popular among Native American architects who are adapting their sacred symbols to modern building techniques, rather than adapting the design as a whole. (I suppose that is more noble than mainstream Americans insisting on a Colonial look, or those hideous, to me, vanity homes with the rustic fake stone "worn through " stucco -- the Hollywood back lot look.) The value I saw in the modern, stylized, earth lodge design was how it incorporated modern amenities, like separate bedrooms, bathrooms, kitchen etc. I think one could do something similar but using more traditional construction.
Could elements from these designs, and others, be mixed and matched?
I am inclined to say, yes. You can see in the evolution of the different designs that there was little hesitation to adopt new ideas and come up with their own innovations. How about an earth lodge with a corbeled center roof (on Pawnee style multiple posts), or a kiva with a conical roof?
I think that this week I will look into how wofati elements can be integrated into these traditional designs.
Andrew brought this thread to my attention and invited me to join. I would be glad to answer/comment on the thread subject. I may not have direct experience in all of it but I have contact and exposure to most indigenous folk architecture of the Americas, Asia, the Middle East and Eastern Europe.
I have lived in, built or facilitated the construction of many of the different vernacular structures of First Nations people. I have scanned the thread and found many interesting ideas and links, thank you for sharing. I don't won't to sound critical, so take this as an inside observation from experience. "Navajo," for the most part, prefer to be referred to as Dine' and "Kiva," are spiritual architecture and not meant for people outside of their original creators. If you find a "kiva," in the desert please do not approach or enter without a clear invitation. I do not even approach replica "models," but that is just what my elders ingrained in me. They are beautiful and very inviting, but admire from afar unless asked to participate in a ceremony.
Thanks again, and I look forward to participating.
Thanks for your input.
Would you agree that use of kiva structural elements without sacred elements, such as the sipapu, could be acceptable to those who might frown on a kiva replica?
I have noticed that there are sacred elements in, and rituals associated with, many Native American structures. My interest in this thread is not to replicate sacred elements or ritual places, but to acknowledge the innovation and practicality of these designs and adapt structural and material elements from them, applying them where appropriate in designing our own individual vernacular architecture.
As far as "Navajo" v "Dine", I usually stick with "Navajo" unless asked to switch (hasn't happened yet). Here in Utah, Navajos mostly go by "Navajo" -- even the activists (though my involvement with them was almost 25 years ago). I don't know that it would be particularly appreciated if I started using "Dine", without them asking, as they might think I was being pretentious. Of course, expectations of behavior change over time, with different environments and with different people.
That is a tough one for me, and folks I know. If it looks like a kiva in the slightest way the answer would be have to be no. Now here is a consideration, if you dig a hole in the ground, and go through the convolutions of rendering the space into a dry, comfortable living environment, with all the amenities of a home, (modern or historical,) and (unlike many,) find living in a round space comfortable and functional for you, then I think that is fine. I have facilitated "earth ship," architecture that had beautiful earth, stone and timber elements, with a circular layouts, and folks would make the Kiva connection on their own. I would kindly correct that assertion, just like calling the adobe fire place a Kiva, I would explain that is called a "Fagon" fire place not a "Kiva," though that is what most call it. Hope that helped, let me know if I should go into more detail.
Now, the Navajo vs Dine' subject. In a life time of being around Dine', (on and off,) I can say that I have only heard one young woman correct a group of college students. Several in the group made the same distinction that you had about "I have always used the reference Navajo, and this was the firs time someone corrected them." The quintessence of the conversation, if talking about "the people," to none Dine' and they hear you use the expression to describe them as Dine' they know a few things about you. They know, you know their culture, or you are married to one of them, or you are an "Indian" yourself, or a combination of those things. This is how it was related to me. I don't think you would, or are offensive, it is just one of those "tells," that one culture uses to see just how sensitive an outsider is to their "world." Like me using the expression "Indian." I normally don't except when around other "Indians." I've been told that it isn't quite the same thing but pretty close to how folks of African culture will use the "N" word. You better not, but they can. It is a strange cultural thing that I have seen both on and of res., it is ever changing and evolving, and trust me it is confusing to everyone, especially folks like me that have been raised in the culture but look "Anglo," more than "Indian."
I suppose then that it is a matter of labeling and intent. A kiva does not have to be round, have a corbelled log roof or even be underground, to hold sacred significance. If it is called a kiva and used as a kiva, it is a kiva (and I suppose the inverse to be true). Still, I do not doubt that there will be many who would not hesitate to build a replica kiva, and even attempt to replicate sacred ritual -- guilt free. It just depends on the person.
Growing up in urban Utah in the '60's and '70's, I met many Navajos and a few Native Americans from other tribes who participated in the Indian Placement Service. I will leave judgement of the program to those who participated in it. I still have mixed feelings about it. I think that it had an overall positive effect but I know that a lot of kids struggled with separation from their families and culture, and that some host families were not the best. The schools on the reservation have since improved to the extent that parents no longer feel compelled to send their kids away. That is the better path.
I was invited to help put together a Native American coalition here in Salt Lake back in the early '90's. My participation was short lived, which was appropriate, but the nature of my departure stung a bit. I had convinced them to make it a non-partisan coalition, but a political hack wanted to co-opt it for the '92 campaign season. She accused me of scheming with the Utes against the Navajos (I had made the mistake of openly speaking to a delegation of Utes after a meeting, out of earshot, which led to a serious case of bad lipreading; and some buttons are so easily pushed) so I was summarily uninvited by the Navajo delegation. They wouldn't even let me explain myself and they refused to ask for clarification from the Utes. I have since learned that blowups like that are not uncommon in intertribal (and intratribal) organizations.
My uncle (now deceased), a Geography professor at Arizona State, was a good friend of Peterson Zah, working with him out of ASU as a coordinator/trainer with VISTA in the '60's and helping with research and some development projects on the reservation. Encouraged by his example, I always wanted a career in development (not fundraising, as the term is used these days), but I graduated at the height of the last big recession and those kinds of opportunities were not around -- that, and my wife, whose parents had brought their children out of poverty in Ecuador, quite rightly had no interest in living a Peace Corps existence.
I do so hope, that folks following this forum take our conversation in good light. There is, beside architectural content, much being shared here of value. Your last entry was so poignant and true. It brought back many memories, social and architectural. I haven't thought about much of this in years.
Your point about "Kiva" is very accurate. When people are reading this, I should note, that our conversation is about the spiritual architectural form that is thousands of years old, covers many cultures, (i.e. Pueblo, Zuni, Hopi, Anasazi, etc.) and is/was interpreted differently by each. Our conversation about "Kiva" is generic language of a structure, most normally round in form, (but not always-i.e. Pueblo, I think Zuni, and I have been told that some North Dine' used a form as well that was not round.) They must be, (I use must as this is what I was taught,) partially or entirely underground to be a "Kiva." What is important to the reader, is please love and enjoy this architectural statement, and if you choose to incorporate elements of it, do so strictly in context of that beauty but please correct folks if the call it a "Kiva."
I can't begin to tell you how the rest of your entry brought back memories. You have, from what I can glean, a very good understanding of the nuances and idiosyncrasies of "First Nation" culture. I think some of the points you brush upon, is why my mother moved to the East coast when I got to middle school age. There had been, (are) so many governmental, and social issues still rampant with the different tribes that she just could not cope. I heard Elders and my own Grandmothers speak to the reality that the first (and worse,) enemy of the "Indian," (mainly after Anglo European influence, but not solely,) was themselves. We tear our own hearts out as often as others do it for us. She was also a optimist, and would say to grow strong and watch for the day when the "children" would return, that the "Indian" blood that now flows in so many veins would awaken. She was correct, much has.
I'd love to know what your career path was?
In answer to your last question, when I finished my BA, the Federal Gov't had imposed a hiring freeze; not a good thing for someone who intended to work in the public sector. Student loans were not as easily obtainable then as they are now, so I decided to put off graduate school for a few years (bad mistake, as you get older you lose all respect for ivory tower professors). My wife had a background in journalism and television production in Ecuador, but was having trouble securing work in that area here, even with a US master's degree, so we decided to combine our career goals and start a Spanish language newspaper to support the growing Hispanic population in Utah and the region. She wrote the articles and I did everything else.
At the same time we started publishing, a new organization was forming to deal with Hispanic issues in the State. We joined and I was asked to be on the Steering Committee. I dealt primarily with Legislative watchdogging and investigating complaints. We published the newspaper for four years then sold it when our second child was born. The asking price was to pay off our debts. We were lucky, as was my father, who had fronted us $14,000 he never anticipated getting back. I continued active with the Hispanic Association for a few more years, fading out of it finally as capable and willing young Hispanics began to become active in forming a local chapter of La Raza.
I was also a member of a development group at the University of Utah. I had recommended to the group that, as an exercise, they take the theory they had learned and, rather than go to another country, they go the Navajo Reservation. It was through that effort and my work at the State Capitol that I was invited to participate in the creation of the short lived Utah Intertribal Coalition (at least I think that is what it was called -- I had blocked out the memory).
Because the newspaper was not a financial success, I was in need of a real job. My father was planning on retiring from his position as a civilian researcher with the Dept. of Army and he leveraged a position for me with the company that wanted to hire him. I worked for them and then Battelle for just over ten years, doing paper studies on Chemical and Biological Defense. The work then moved to Maryland but I couldn't follow and deteriorating health kept me from pursuing work here.
My wife has a good position at the local Community College so I have been a house husband for about 12 years now, which worked out well for the first few years, as we have a Down Syndrome girl who needed extra help when she was younger. I started to get restless after she entered Junior High.
About 6 years ago, my wife had me get involved with UN Online Volunteers. I was accepted and trained as an online project facilitator by an NGO based in the Netherlands. My first assignment was a fisheries project in Nigeria. Predictably, it blew up within six months after a UN brokered border realignment resulted in a secessionist movement followed by forced relocations, property confiscations, disease, malnutrition, rape, torture, murder, etc. I have been spending a great deal of time since then advocating on behalf of my client population, even after the NGO dropped them and flushed the project down the memory hole. According to the UN, everything is just fine, a diplomatic triumph. I call it Hurricane Kofi. Imposed human suffering without the bother and expense of war, all in a vain attempt to salvage the corrupt and incompetent tenure of a failed UN Secretary General.
My research for the fisheries project prompted me to join the Stoves list at bioenergylists.com when I needed input for a fish smoker design, and my renewed interest in stoves eventually led me to Permies (and Donkey's rocket stove Forum). Because of my lifelong interest in development and appropriate technology (I read Mother Earth News when I was young, but not since it gentrified -- "affluent hippie" seems to be a contradiction in terms, but there sure are a lot of them), I have found Permies to be quite enjoyable to participate in, though I am not an ideal fit.
Well, that took awhile to read, but you did ask.
That was a perfect response, I often find folks on these public information forums that will not validate their background, not even a little, which I find to be a "red flag," to their questions/comments." I want to answer real life challenges, not some topic of debate or conceptual issue they think they may or may not have. So, it was nice getting a little C.V. about one of "permies.com" participants. Your back ground is eclectic like mine, with many different facets. I perked up when you mentioned "fisheries." I in another "career reincarnation," was going to get a PhD in Zoology/Ethology with a specialization in Exotic Animal Husbandry. Much spun off of that goal, ( to lengthy for this thread,) but now I do raise Trout, among other activities, as already mentioned. Look forward to more discussion.
I calculated a corbeled dome and found that it could get pretty high if you stick with the octagon (taller with the hexadecagon), so I figure you could switch to a lower frequency, 16 --> 8 --> 4-sided polygon, when the chord length matched the spanning and load strength of your poles. I have seen more-or-less that in the examples in Native American Architecture and on the internet. They usually don't take the dome to its peak, but flatten the roof when the poles can span the hole.
I bought some dowels to make a model. Please feel free to stop me, if I am headed toward folly (a very small one, anyway).
We can walk to school together. And we can both read this tiny ad:
Solar Dehydrator Plans - Combo Packagehttps://permies.com/t/74059/digital-market/digital-market/Solar-Dehydrator-Plans-Combo-Package