A much-needed housing project
Tolchii’ Kooh, a nonprofit organization, is a recipient of a HUD/NAJASDA Grant to build a Monolithic Dome, 36-unit, housing project for teachers and staff and as rentals for residents of the reservation. The homes are located next to the charter school on the Navajo Nation reservation at Taloni Lake, Arizona — some 65 miles east northeast of Flagstaff.
Monolithic Domes are a relatively new architectural concept for the Navajo Reservation, particularly for residential housing.
Joe Hancock, owner of BMJS Contracting Incorporated and General Contractor for the project said, “The homes are almost complete. There are a few details still undone, like sewer hookups on a few of the domes. The construction of the dome shell was subcontracted to Dome Technology of Idaho Falls, but we finished out the rest of the project.”
Twenty-four domes are expected to open for occupancy mid-summer 2004. These 32’ domes are built in clusters of four. Each group of four is divided into 6 apartments: four one-bedroom apartments and two, 2-bedroom apartments — a total of 36 rentals. Teachers and staff will be given first choice and the remaining vacancies given to other Native American residents of the reservation.
Living areas feature ceramic tile with carpeting in the bedrooms. Each unit has a full shower/tub combination, a refrigerator and stove and paid water usage. Tenants will pay for electricity.
Ron White, Tolani Lake Elementary School Academy Superintendent, said, “We haven’t advertised at all for the rentals and we will have more people than we need to fill them up by the time they open in June.”
A variety of architecture is built on the reservation, but the idea for using this type of structure for housing came about when Mr. White saw a magazine rendering of a similar rental project in Minnesota.
He said, “It wasn’t perfectly what we wanted, so we modified it a little. The project architect, Loren Sadler of Arizona was able to make the necessary modifications and make it work for us. Monolithic Domes give the project high energy efficiency, resulting in low utility and heating costs, low wind profiles and less wind damage, and roominess not available in conventional housing. The dome housing should be a very wonderful place to live.”
Tolani Lake Elementary School Academy has 73 students and approximately 16 teachers on staff at this time. Future plans for the Navajo Nation include an 80-foot dome for a housing office and warehouse/maintenance support for the 36 housing units. But at this writing funding is not yet available.
Note: This article was written and first presented in June 2004.