The Thunder Valley Youth Shelter will provide emergency housing in a safe, supportive and nurturing environment for at-risk children between eight and twelve years of age on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation. This target population is comprised of youth involved in suicide attempts, truancy, drug or alcohol abuse, and violence, who typically come from multiple living situations due to parental problems.
A sense of urgency and desire to grow from the rolling plains of the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation led the design team to consider earth as the generator of an architecture of shelter and protection. Anchored into the earth and reaching towards the sky the building embraces the children and staff with natural materials to engage the senses and lift the spirit. Local labor and limited material transportation lessens the buildings impact on the environment while helping to stimulate the local economy. The rammed earth walls will be constructed from the site soil and the living roofs will contain native grasses minimizing both the visual and environmental impacts on the surrounding landscape.
Severe winters and hot summers characterize the extreme climate on Pine Ridge. The Emergency Youth Shelter is designed to maximize it’s passive and active solar potential by leveraging the thermal mass of the rammed earth walls to keep the building warm in the winter and cool in the summer. Rainwater will be collected and utilized in the landscaping.