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Athena Steen

Raised from Clay: Earthen materials as connections to land, people and culture

Lent 2021-2022

Tuesday, 25 January 2022


In this open exchange, Athena will share the wonders of Earthen Materials as regenerative tools for culture and construction in the face of an increasingly disconnected world. Through stories of heritage, family and collaboration, she will give an insightful and innovative look on an artistic and architectural practice that so many designers and architects are often detached from: the art of building circularly, in tandem with nature and culture.

With key lessons from her projects throughout the Americas and her decades of teaching, she will share ways in which architecture can weave histories, resilience, joy and technique, highlighting the versatility and innovation possible through the use of natural materials and indigenous knowledges.


Athena Steen is a crafter, maker, educator and writer. Raised in the tradition of the Native-American Pueblo of Santa Clara in New Mexico, USA, Athena has spent her life growing, living and moulding clay and buildings alike. As her mother (who trained as an architect) did, Athena spent years making homes with her family and children, rapidly discovering equal joy and potential in strawbales as she did with clay.

At once artist and educator, Athena is an expert and innovator on clay works and strawbale construction, and regularly travels around the world to give workshops, build projects and consult on others. The author of multiple books, from “Built by hand” to “The Strawbale House”, she has co-founded the Canelo Project with her husband Bill Steen, a homestead in the heart of the Arizona border, where she teaches the arts of clay and straw, accompanied by their three sons.

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