Architecture of the Great Plains


Earthlodge Designs draws inspiration from indigenous architectural design.  We strive to honor these models of resiliency while following principles of sacred geometry , ecological design and resiliency.  Our work is to create shelter as sacred space, accessible to everyone.


Earthlodges were some of the first permanent dwellings of the Great Plains of North America where they endured for hundreds of years. » These great structures were up to sixty feet in diameter and offered protection from the bitter cold, intense summer heat and near constant wind of the prairie. » Earthen coverings provided a thermal buffer and heat sink which helped to regulate the extremes of heat and cold. » The low profile minimized exposure to the wind and yielded to the magnificance of the prairie landscape   These Ancestral Earthlodges may have had several unique configurations and adaptations, however most had common features that included: » A circular or nearly circular plan » An earthen covering » A central fire pit and smoke hole » An entry facing the East » A structural wooden frame In addition to providing shelter, these Earthlodges were and are sacred, ceremonial structures built in accordance with cosmologies honoring the natural world.  


Our hope is to instill that sense of wonder and respect for the natural world.  Our Earthlodges derive their form and basic layout from the ancestral Earthlodges.  However,  our interpretations are typically designed with heating, plumbing, and electrical systems suiting the requirements of our clients. We strive to incorporate: » Building materials which promote a healthy indoor environment » Local, reclaimed and salvaged materials » Energy and resource conservation measures » Passive solar design » Alternative energy sources such as grid tied or stand-alone solar systems and wind generators, biomass heating and/or ground loop geothermal heating and cooling systems » Natural and non-depleting building materials We take time to ensure that building sites are carefully analyzed and selected.  We ensure that native planting materials are used in conjuction with permaculture concepts and land stewardship strategies which yield dwellings that become part of the landscape and natural ecosystem rather than architectural objects upon the land.  We believe that the integration of the built environment with the natural environment is essential for the long term viability of any project.  Our goal is to blend with the natural beauty of the Earth.