Nathaniel Corum
Nathaniel
Corum
Red Feather Development Group
Bozeman
Mont.

2003
2006

“My motivation is to find ways of encouraging cultural and environmental sustainability within indigenous communities. The Fellowship has provided a wonderful structure towards these ends that led to community design and construction of replicable and green housing models with three tribal communities...”

According to Nathaniel Corum, “The Rose Fellowship allowed the development of a career invested in working on housing with American Indian communities.” And what a career it has been!

Raised on a 30-acre farm in Vermont, Nathaniel left the Northeast to pursue a self-designed major in architecture and design at Stanford University. He went on to earn a Master of Architecture from the University of Texas at Austin, culminating in a Fulbright Scholarship to study architectural preservation and urban poverty issues in Morocco.

Back in the States, Nathaniel used his Rose Fellowship to return to his rural roots by collaborating with the Red Feather Development Group. Working alongside tribal members, Nathaniel and his colleagues envisioned and constructed four green, affordable houses and a tribal college facility. These projects continue to serve as replicable models to address housing deficits in the Northern Cheyenne (Mont.), Ojibwa (N.D.) and Hopi (Ariz.) Nations. The fellowship also fostered the production of Building a Straw Bale House, now in its second printing from Princeton Architectural Press. Industry recognition for Nathaniel’s work with Red Feather includes coverage in architecture magazine Dwell, and the 2006 book, Design Like You Give a Damn, edited by Architecture for Humanity.

Nathaniel Corum is an architect and an Architecture for Humanities programs manager focused on appropriate technologies, building prototypes, landmark materials and off-grid systems for deployment in humanitarian relief and educational contexts.

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Building a Straw Bale House

Scope:
Princeton Achitectural Press
October 2005
192 pages
ISBN# 1568985142

Residential Unit Profile:
For the past decade, volunteer-based organization Red Feather has worked with tribal elders to repair homes through its American Indian Housing Initiative. After recently becoming a nonprofit, Red Feather Development Group has focused on straw bale home construction and participatory design with the collaboration of Rose Fellow Nathaniel Corum. Together they refined a process for building straw bale houses. This inexpensive, environmentally-sound, efficient and beautiful form of building has caught the public’s imagination. In response, Nathaniel Corum authored Building a Straw Bale House (Princeton Architectural Press.)

Now in its second printing, this step-by-step manual for would-be straw bale builders gives a comprehensive overview of the process and includes informative sections on safety, design, tools, and materials. More than a construction manual, the book is also a tale of community action and cooperation that suggests a can-do solution to the growing housing crisis on America’s Native American reservations.


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Environmental Research Center

Scope:
School (1,820 sq ft)

Residential Unit Profile:
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.

With participatory design coordination by Nathaniel Corum, 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.

Status:
Completed 2005


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Hopi Elder Housing Prototypes

Scope:
2 affordable home ownership units

Residential Unit Profile:
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. In addition, these homeowner-informed, culturally appropriate designs demonstrate the use of low-impact (on both health and environment) products, passive solar and radiant heating systems, post-agricultural building materials, rainwater collection, and barrier-free design.


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Northern Cheyenne Housing Prototypes

Scope:
50 acres gross site area
New construction
2,640 sq ft gross project area
2 affordable home ownership units
Residential Unit Profile
2 3 BR 1,200-1,400 sq ft

Residential Unit Profile:
As part of Red Feather’s American Indian Sustainable Housing Initiative, this project represents a replicable model, straw bale home for the Northern Cheyenne Nation of Western Montana. Together with other prototype homes on the Northern Cheyenne and neighboring Crow Nation, the house demonstrates that straw bale construction is an affordable and energy-efficient housing solution. In addition, these houses are constructed with community involvement, transferring straw bale construction skills to tribal members.

With participatory design coordination by Rose Fellow Nathaniel Corum, the project features homeowner-informed, culturally appropriate designs that demonstrate the use of low-impact (on both health and environment) products, passive solar and radiant heating systems, post-agricultural building materials, rainwater collection, and barrier-free design.

Cost:
79,200 Hard (construction)
5,000 Soft (all other)
84,200 TOTAL

Status:
Completed 2006