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Sunday, August 19, 2018

Southwestern Architecture Takes Many Forms

Do you know how to distinguish a Santa Fe Style home from a territorial, adobe or Pueblo-style home?  I have found that we use these terms interchangeably and often incorrectly.
I was not clear on the exact meaning myself and decided to do a little research. Southwestern architecture is a blend of three cultures, Native American, Hispanic and Anglo. These designs reflect great consideration to the environment and blend beautifully into the Southwestern landscape.
Hundreds of years ago, the Native Americans built homes by hand, with flat roofs and thick walls. They were made of stone, straw and mud. Sometimes they combined skinned trees and branches. They were strong and could protect them from their enemies and the environmental elements. This style of home is considered the Pueblo. These homes were designed to let in the heat of the sun in the winter while keeping out the intense summer heat. In the 16th Century, the Southwest region became part of the Spanish Colony and the cultures combined the Pueblo technique of using mud with European technique of using blocks and mortar to create mud bricks, which resulted in Adobe construction.  The Spanish also introduced tools to assist in carving wood for doors and posts. Today adobe homes are often frame constructed since the labor involved in the building of a traditional adobe is costly. The city of Santa Fe, New Mexico created a mandate in 1957 that strictly limited the architectural styles and the results of this zoning ordinance is referred to as Santa Fe-style.  
Pueblo and adobe homes are frequently referred to as Santa Fe-style because of their predominance there. Pueblo-style homes feature soft lines and rounded corners; they historically have low doorways and small windows. Today Pueblo homes are updated with high ceilings and large, open floor plans. The old and new Pueblo homes share features such as vigas, round logs used for ceiling beams; Latillas, small branches used as ceiling planking usually made of aspen, pine or cedar; nichos, small shelves carved into a wall; canales, a roof spout to allow water off the roof; and bancos, built-in benches made of adobe.
In the 1800s the railroad brought new building materials to the Southwest and saw mills were built, changing the local building practices. The availability of materials, tools and technology added to the adobe construction and evolved into the Territorial style. The simple soft lines of the adobe pueblo homes were being embellished with Victorian details, such as sharper corners and often multi-story and finished with wood or brick peeking out on top, among other highly finished details. Wood and molding are often seen here as trim around doors and windows. Hacienda style shares many of the Pueblo features and typically has a large courtyard surrounded by the main house and a guesthouse, pool house and a garage.     

Today, builders use a mix of the traditional elements of Pueblo-style homes while adding more contemporary elements to create what we know of as today’s Southwestern-style homes. This type of home is beautiful and in harmony with the southwestern environment. It is refreshingly different from the architecture found in most parts of the world.


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