Located in the Pueblo of Jemez, this project is the new home of the Walatowa Language Immersion Program, a unique model of indigenous early childhood education providing Head Start and Early Head Start services exclusively in Towa, the tribe’s native language. The Pueblo of Jemez believes that the preservation of their traditional culture and language is critical in maintaining the strength of their community and way of life. The design supports this philosophy by providing a familiar, homely, and immersive environment that is specifically designed to minimize student exposure to other languages.
The architecture seeks to present a modest and contextually appropriate response, carefully avoiding kitsch while drawing upon traditional local materials and design language in a forward looking way. Rather than simply copying, we looked beyond the superficial and deeper into the concepts of how and why traditional pueblo architecture developed in the first place. It was about the play of light and shadow, honesty of materials, lack of ornamentation, responding to sun and wind, and the introduction of plazas and courtyards. Beyond the design of the building itself, emphasis was made on the placement of the buildings and the resulting outdoor spaces between them.
Simple massing, wood trellises, and natural tones juxtaposed with playful fenestration and pops of color work to ground the building in its place and purpose and anchor it to the distinctive natural environment of the surrounding Jemez Valley.
Location:Jemez Pueblo, NM
Type:Childcare + Head Start
Project Manager:Dean Cowdrey, AIA
General Contractor:PACE Pacific Corp.