by Miryam Muller in

Eight architecture students from the university of Colorado have designed and built a cabin in the Utah desert for a Navajo woman. Under the guidance of their tutor Rick Sommerfeld, the students teamed up with charity DesignBuildBLUFF, who regulary work with students to provide housing for some of the 2.4 million Native Americans that live in dilapidated or overcrowded housing on tribal land.

The team were asked with replacing the home of Lorraine Nakai, an avid collector of books, ornaments and other memorabilia. “when we met her, she had her collections piled and dispersed within her old house. She expressed a strong desire to be able to showcase her eclectic collections in her new home, they were truly a part of who she was,” explains the team.

The students planned a long and narrow residence with one room spanning its entire length. To accommodate all of Nakai’s possessions, they tucked all bedroom and bathroom facilities behind a 15-metre long storage and display wall.

The exterior of the house is clad with timer and the students added panels of recycled glass to protect the walls from the harsh desert sun and open winds. Large windows along the east-facing elevation and a large doorway to the south allow for cross-ventilation during warmer seasons. A projecting window on the north side provides an indoor seating area with a view out across the landscape.

The building was constructed in just 80 days for a budget of $25,000.