The Rosie Joe house is built around the great room concept, with three bedrooms and a bath, a total of 1200 square feet.
Rammed earth was first, for its aesthetic (geological-like striations and connection with the ancient Anasazi architecture),
ready availability (sand for miles and miles, and clay deposits in the vicinity) and thermal mass capacity (18 inches thick).
The idea was to use the rammed earth interior wall in a Trombe-like fashion,
with a south-facing, glass-lined hallway designed
to allow winter sun in and to shade all of the summer sun away. All of the rooms are attached to the massive central rammed earth
wall, tucked to the north, with openings in both the rammed earth wall (doorways without doors, by request
- privacy not being a
huge issue in the Navajo culture) and the exterior north wall - loose fire-proofed (Timbor and 20-mule team Borax) straw sandwiched
by clear acrylic panels - to allow for natural ventilation. Next was the butterfly roof to provide water catchment, 2500 square feet
in all, designed to fill a cistern with just a couple inches of rainfall.
Water from the traditional source collected by pickup and 55-gallon barrel can be pumped into the cistern as an alternative,
and a hand-crank system fills interior reservoirs for the kitchen and bath. A composting toilet was provided but declined in favor
of the traditional outhouse (a septic system was rejected early on as beyond our scope, and perhaps superfluous), however gray-water
drainage is provided to which a sewage system can be attached in the future.
The butterfly roof floats above the house, above a cellulose-insulated,
corrugated metal roof, providing additional cooling and a shade structure. The
lower, interior roof was designed to allow the ceiling to be constructed with in
fill, found wooden pallets of varying sizes, lined with canvas. Photovoltaic
panels, inverter and batteries were provided for lighting and small electric
appliances; stove and refrigerator are supplied by propane.