DesignBuildBLUFF2020 illustrated through a frame

Shakkei: Borrowed scenery.

A principle used in East Asia in which the landscape is framed to bring it into a space. Our experience in Bluff felt like Shakkei. The majestic, fiery reds of the rocks often found themselves as the stars of a scene as they were peeping through the windows of our home, into the house we were building, and even within nature, framing itself. The landscape not only seeped into structures to kiss and paint the walls with color, but throughout our experience, and learning about the culture of this land, we found it to be hugging the homes of our ancestors and blanketing them for protection.


Bluff Campus | Edge of Cedars | Mesa Verde + Chaco Canyon | Four Peaks


Around our campus, we got the opportunity to wake up to blazing red sunrises and we were constantly surrounded by the vibrant reds and oranges of the soil and rocks. The sun enjoyed coming into our space through the windows and complimented the warm, wood colors of the interior. We explored making our own water colors from the soil, made rammed earth samples, and created mud balls.



Exploring the local ruins allowed us to understand the protection earth can provide. The structures blended in with it's surroundings due to the local material used and the way it was designed to be within the rocks of the mesas (image 3).


The bright red colors were playful during the sunrise and sunsets. The metal exterior material allowed the colors to bounce off the house and give it the same hue. The house changed colors with it's surroundings. The white interiors allowed for a stark contrast with the exterior, which invited the scenery into the home, warming it up. The borrowed scenery became a permanent resident in the 3 plaster walls which are found in the bathroom, the entrance, and behind the wood stove.

A static picture frame will never capture the light quality, warmth, and the personality that this playful earth has to offer. Bluff has taught me the importance of welcoming nature in with a window, a door, and a heart that is ready to listen, see, and play along.

Created By
Alejandra Castillo