ADOBES OF THE SOUTHWEST
For many Southwest residents,
adobe homes represent the most practical and aesthetic architectural legacy
of the desert. The magnificent and enduring adobe has long provided
multiple benefits for this arid region. The advantages of adobe architecture
are now being rediscovered as a surge of adobe construction is being undertaken
by individual home builders and commercial ventures.
Adobes insulate against the heat of summer and the cold
of winter. They are also simple to construct and last for centuries.
Adobe architecture epitomizes the pragmatic Southwestern way of life and
its resurgence symbolizes a renewal of traditions that have served the
region for centuries. There are two basic categories of adobe architecture
and each has distinctive features that reflect the cultural context in
which it originates. The SPANISH form of adobe is prevelent in much
of the Southwest and Mexico while the NATIVE form of adobe tends to predominate
in New Mexico. The New Mexico style of architecture is generally
divided into three forms: Pueblo, Territorial and Northern New Mexico
adobe. While these three divisions are derived from the NATIVE tradition,
each is shaped by specific locations within the state and the corresponding
cultural influences that are unique to each location. SPANISH adobe
and NATIVE adobe are both highly adaptable and individual builders have
wide latitude for improvisation. SPANISH adobe is usually more colorful
and elaborate in design while NATIVE adobe draws on the immediate surroundings
and blends with the countour of the land. Each form of architecture
has its unique aesthetic value and both are highly functional in the rugged
Southwest. Adobe is a natural building material composed of sand,
sandy clay and straw or other organic materials which are shaped into bricks
using wooden frames and dried in the sun. Adobe structures are extremely
durable and account for the oldest existing buildings on the planet.
Adobe has been in use by indigenous peoples in the Southwestern United
States, Mesoamerica and the Andean region of South America for several
thousand years. These New World adobes were imported to Spain in
the 16th Century by Spaniards who had traveled to Mexico and Puru.
The Spanish also introduced Iberian forms of adobe to the Americas.
The interaction of Spain and the Americas has resulted in a reciprocity
of architectural concepts and this combination of adobe traditions is represented
in many Southwestern adobes.