last updated 11-19-05



the western lands; multi-phased shelter

The Utopia 6 will be the sixth in a series of shelters designed and constructed from cultural waste materials and a do-it-yourself motivation. Previous structures have ranged from stationary social shelters, floating studios, to mobile enclosures deployed in urban environments.

While previous Utopia(n) structures have been limited to the use of waste material and a singular design deployment, the Utopia 6 will differ by developing over several months and the use of sustainable building practices and materials, in addition to recyclables. This project will also differ by constructing and performing a series of shelter structures, that will mirror the process of pioneering and homesteading, and in course, will incorporate themselves into the proceeding structure. Of which, the principal shelter structure will be a variation on the historic Nebraska House style building.

Using hay bales as a primary structural building material, as with the Nebraska House style, the Utopia 6 project revives a regional building practice, but also explores the potentials of affordable and sustainable building practices. This project has a cross strategy of working from the act of homesteading, a process of self-sustainability and self –sufficiency, and the need to develop sound and secure shelters, for homeless or emergency situations, both an expression of the architecture of necessity. The Utopia 6 project, and in particular, the Nebraska House variation, will attempt to express relevant social issues, embedded in the historical and contemporary realities, ensnared in the process of the western expansion of the United States and projected through the lens of our current socio-political landscape.

Go To Omaha World-Herald Article

supported in part by the Nimoy Foundation

The Utopia 6 covered wagon

This van, which will facilitate and transport the project westward to Wyoming, was purchased at the Omaha Police Impound Vehicle auction.

site of the Nebraska Variation the bigger picture

Model for Nebraska house variation

exploded veiw

The Utopia 6 Project; phase two - Begins

this is the (public/urban) campsite where I will

live while the Nebraska varaition is built


the tent I designed and built using a kit I designed for the infrastructure

and a sewn nylon shell

collecting water from the landscape through evaporation



laying out the footprint of the nebraska variation

level ground


Solar oven

insulated cardboard box and reflectors. plans by Joe Radabaugh

Mason Jar painted black for heat gain

3 hours later, dinner (beans, corn, veggie sausage) is served.

the base

a place to stand

pulling hot dinner from the solar oven after a days work

brown rice, black beans, greens, potatoes and apples

floor assembly and progress

laundry utopia

done for the day

pulping for hybridobe more....

pulped paper waste from the Bemis


adding local clay and straw

test bricks

another fine solar cooked meal

a groundhog with whom I share my small plot

'night all

Windows and Vertical

found PVC for windows

wrapped bales for a storm

Higher and higher

spiking in the windows

pounding down the bales

the last bale

Neighbors help with the roof bearing assembly

Cutting found bamboo for the roof

my bread recipe

Solar baked bread, hard-boiled egg a-la-sol, and beans

chicken wire

Mudding the roof

bamboo slats

My hybridobe mix

40% paper pulp, 40% clay, 15% cement, 5% straw

Metal Work

putting up the roof

storage and chicken coop

photo cred. Tim Woods


I found this very angry cement mixer to help with large batch hybridobe

see the film

Mudding the walls with friends


Squash Apples Mushrooms Potatoes

thanks to heidi hesse for documentation

finishing up the interior