Nakai House (2012) by DesignBuildBLUFF

Instructor: Rick Sommerfeld
Design team: Milen Milev, Cameron Minor, David Hevesi, Joshua Young, Michelle Pollok, Courtney Hughes, James Anderson
Photography by Scot Zimmerman and James Anderson

Location: Bluff, San Juan County, Utah in Navajo Nation

Built by our University of Colorado Denver students for poet, farmer and entomologist Lorraine Nakai, the design of Nakai House was inspired in equal measures by her love of the land and literature. 

A study in efficiency in both energy use and space, the home is defined by a 50’-long bookshelf that allows Lorraine to show off her large, eclectic book collection while separating an open space for working and entertaining visitors from Lorraine’s more private living spaces. The public zone of the floor plan constitutes an open space subtly layered to provide three zones of privacy. A ribbon window next to the kitchen table frames the nearby Cedar Mesa perfectly, while a window seat projects outward beneath the shade of a tree, providing Lorraine with many places to read, write and be inspired. The fireplace, an integral part of the Navajo Culture, further denotes the transition from the public to the private. 

Rather than a conventional bedroom, Lorraine’s bedroom is merely a sleeping nook nestled within the bookshelf. For her guests, a lofted sleeping space above the library can be accessed by climbing a hand constructed ladder. The ‘stepping’ floor plan provides panoramic views of the northern mountains, while the western splash window frames views of the desert landscape.

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