By Shawn Evans, AIA
If tangible heritage is to be preserved, whose value systems determine preservation treatment methods?
The 21 federally recognized Pueblo tribes in New Mexico, Texas, and Arizona are actively testing this question. Several of their villages have been occupied for more than 1,000 years, and many are conceived to have always been in their current locations.The homes have undergone countless cycles of growth, contraction, and alteration. Maintenance of their earthen walls and roofs was woven into the tribe’s traditions, and the homes were understood to be of the living earth. When a structure outlived its usefulness, it was returned to the earth and was built anew.
Today, the built heritage of these communities is threatened. Many families have moved out of the villages to contemporary homes in nearby developments created between 1970 and the 1990s by the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). Less than half of the nearly 3,000 homes in these villages are now used as primary residences, and many have fallen into disrepair. Improper building repairs have also compounded the problem. Portland cement, which was installed with good intentions as a replacement for the earthen plasters, has caused extensive damage since it retains moisture in the adobe walls.... Read More →