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Nathaniel Corum

Sausalito, CA, United States

Designer (architecture)

Member since May 09, 2007


  • Navajo Elder Hogan Homes

    Community, Environmental Design

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    These housing prototypes and building components grew out of a participatory design process with Navajo communities in the American Southwest. Facilitated by Indigenous Community Enterprises (I.C.E., a Navajo non-profit) and design director Nathaniel Corum, this collaboration with Navajo elders and other tribal members produced a range of culturally-appropriate home designs. Each prototype home features an octagonal hogan - a traditional form adapted to contemporary circumstances according to the desires and traditions of Dine (Navajo) elders - and materials that are native to place. For example, small diameter timbers stem from tribal forestry restoration. Concrete products and other materials come from Navajo sources, and wheat straw bales are from Navajo Agricultural Products Industry fields.

    The barrier-free floor plan, comprised of a concentrated wet core within an insulating straw bale envelope, allows for an efficient layout within a small footprint. This system can scale up or down, orient to solar and wind patterns for passive heating and cooling, and be partitioned flexibly in order to adapt to changing inhabitant needs.

    Straw bale construction is amenable to community and volunteer participation. The material is a non-toxic and readily available agricultural by-product, and acts as a super-insulating envelope to give comfort, beauty and efficiency in colder climes. In this load-bearing example the straw bale walls serve as both structure and insulation.

    This ...

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    “The United States Government has condemned over 200 Indian homes on this reservation due to black mold infestation. Currently it is very common to find two or three families living in a two-bedroom housing unit … the people are ready for a change … The straw bale design is an opportunity to develop, efficient housing for the residents of the Turtle Mountain Reservation.”

    — Richard Monette, Tribal Chairman, Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa

    In the Turtle Mountain community of North Dakota more than 1,000 homes were already urgently needed when several hundred homes were recently condemned. In response to this shortage, the Environmental Research Center at Turtle Mountain Community College was designed as both a learning laboratory and a model for future home construction. The project features straw bale construction, which is an affordable and energy-efficient housing solution especially when built with a frost-protected shallow foundation. As an additional benefit, the building was constructed with community involvement, transferring straw bale construction skills to tribal members.

    Designed through a participatory charette process, the building demonstrates the use of low-impact (on both health and environment) products, passive and active solar power, radiant heating, evaporative cooling, post-agricultural building materials, rainwater collection, within a barrier-free, culturally appropriate design informed by tribal college and community members.

    The Envi...

  • Hopi Nation Straw Bale Home

    Community, Environmental Design

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    “I took the planner, surveyor and engineer from my office to see [the Hopi straw-bale home]. We all said, ‘I want one, too.’ We do have a housing problem here. We need homes, and this is something that could help.” — Royce Jenkins, Economic Development Director, Hopi Tribe

    A part of Red Feather’s Elder Housing Initiative, this project is the first replicable-model, straw bale home constructed on the Hopi Reservation. Straw bale construction, especially when built with a frost-protected shallow foundation, is an affordable and energy-efficient housing solution. Together with other prototype homes on the Hopi Nation, the house demonstrates that straw bale construction is an affordable and energy-efficient housing solution.

    Constructed with community involvement and participatory design coordination by Rose Fellow Nathaniel Corum, the homes are a vehicle for transferring straw bale construction skills to tribal members. The barrier-free floor plan, comprised of a concentrated wet core within an insulating straw bale envelope, allows for an efficient layout within a small footprint. This system can scale up or down, orient to solar and wind patterns for passive heating and cooling, and be partitioned flexibly in order to adapt to changing inhabitant needs.

    Straw bale construction is amenable to community and volunteer participation. The material is a non-toxic and readily available agricultural by-product, and acts as a super-insulating envelope to give comfort, b...

Community Design Advocate

Contact Nathaniel Corum

My Interests

  • Industrial Design
  • Environmental Design
  • Communication Design
  • Fashion Design
  • Audio/Visual Design