The Nakai residence in the middle of the desert, constructed for Lorraine Nakai

The Nakai residence in the middle of the desert, constructed for Lorraine Nakai

Architects: DesignBuildBLUF
Location: Unnamed Road, Bluff, UtahUSA
Year: 2012
Photo courtesy: James Anderson, Scott Zimmerman

“The Nakai residence was constructed for Lorraine Nakai, a Navajo, academic and avid collector.


In the middle of the desert with three existing structures on site the team sited the building to create an outdoor communal courtyard. The home opens to the south to accept the cool breezes in the summer, while the building shields the courtyard from the cold western winds in the winter.


In response to the geomorphology of the site, the roof gestures up to the tree on the northeast and the nearby hill to the southwest. The building is clad in recycled spandrel glass. The glass reflects the landscape and nearby historic homes.


A fifty-foot long bookcase on the interior of the home showcases the client’s collection of books, acts as the kitchen and sleeping nook while creating a threshold for private spaces behind it. The bookcase terminates at the window seat at the north end of the building. This reading nook is cantilevered under the lone tree on the site.


The public zone of the floor plan is a large 11’ wide x 50’ long space beside the bookcase. The fireplace, an integral part of the Navajo culture, is the singular element in this space simply dividing the living room, dinning room and kitchen from the art studio and bedroom.”

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