Connecting people, culture and nature

Juanita cropped-RanchHouse

San Bernadino, near Agua Prieta, Sonora, Mexico    2007

At the request of our friend Valer Austin, who is deeply involved in conservation and restoration efforts on lands she owns along the eastern border of the state of Sonora with the United States, to build with straw bales on one of her ranches a dormitory for her ranch workers.  To undertake the construction of the building, we requested the help of our friends Emiliano Lopez and wife Juanita Morales, along with their children and several spouses.

We had two requests in the design of the building from owner Valer.  One was that there was to be no wood in the building and the second, that the exterior have a finish that would not erode.  We opted for a structure out of red iron steel posts with a metal hip roof, exterior plaster of cement and lime with clay plasters, furniture and floors on the interior of the building.  Basically it was a combination of utilizing what was available locally in the way of materials and the skills of the workers.

The building turned out simple but beautiful.  Most of all it was marvelous to watch the entire family work together to bring the building to completion.  It was the first project that we had done together with them since the days when we worked together in Obregon.