The Fulton Schools’ Del E. Webb School of Construction recently celebrated the completion of a new course aimed at exploring solutions to housing needs in Native American communities in Arizona.
Community-Based Design: Innovations in Tribal Housing (Con 598: Indigenous Project Delivery), led by Visiting Eminent Scholar Wanda Dalla Costa, focused on devising affordable, sustainable, energy efficient and culturally responsive housing prototypes.
The course is a result of collaborations with the Gila River Indian Community and the Tolani Lake community on the Navajo Nation.
“Each community has different objectives, but both are interested in exploring residential construction as a generator for economic development,” Dalla Costa says.
Twelve graduate and undergraduate students in construction management, construction engineering and sustainable engineering programs took the course.
Students worked to achieve the course goals through promoting the use of local building materials, exploring self-build techniques and finding construction methods that encourage job-training opportunities.
Three student teams undertook interdisciplinary projects and made their presentations at a gathering on ASU Tempe campus on December 1 with members of the two tribal communities, along with members of the White Mountain Apache Tribe.
The project displays were used “to begin a dialogue on tribal housing on such issues as design, cost, project delivery, performance, sustainability and the use of innovative materials and alternative energy sources,” Dalla Costa explains.
Dalla Costa is an architect and a member of the Saddle Lake First Nation in Alberta, Canada. She has spent nearly 20 years working with tribal communities.
Dalla Costa became the first First Nation woman to become an architect in Canada. Her interests include collaborative design methodology, the co-product of knowledge in built environments, and the contemporary expression of values and cultural sustainability.
She holds a master’s of design research in city design, planning and policy from the Southern California Institute of Architecture and a master’s of architecture degree from the University of Calgary. She is the owner of Redquill Architecture, a firm specializing in working with tribal communities.
In the 2017 spring semester, Dalla Costa will be teaching the course Indigenous Planning, Architecture and Construction, which is cross-listed in the Planning and American Indian Studies program and is available for both graduate and undergraduate levels.
In the 2017 fall semester, Dalla Costa will again teach the course Community-Based Design: Innovations in Tribal Housing, inviting students to engage in interdisciplinary work that integrates construction, architecture, sustainability, engineering and planning.