Building Better Homes With Recycled Waste Materials –

A decade ago in rural western Alabama two Auburn University architecture professors conceived a strategy for improving rustic living conditions while imparting practical experience to those who would design and build these structures. Called The Rural Studio, the homes combined ingenuity and quirky regionalism to introduce students to the social responsibilities of architectural practices that would provide inspirational and well-constructed buildings through the use of materials previously classified as waste.

That idea and its fledgling bits of success spread, eventually coming to the attention of architect Hank Louis in Bluff, Utah, who quickly decided it would be his mission to create similar homes. He formed a nonprofit education entity known as DesignBuildBLUFF that conceptualizes and constructs affordable homes for Navajo families currently living in substandard dwellings and harsh weather conditions—howling sub-zero temperatures in the winter, drenching rains in spring, sweltering temperatures in the summer.

The group’s website says of its effort: “Compassion can be found in a CAD file” CAD means computer-aided design and notes that “more than 2.4 million Native Americans live on or near tribal land, facing some of the worst housing conditions in the country. More than 40 percent live in overcrowded or dilapidated housing with severely inadequate infrastructure services like water and sewer.”

Mascitelli, front row, pink hat (DesignBuildBLUFF)

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