Adobe is the main architectural theme raised in Santa Fe. By city ordinance, most Plaza and downtown buildings must adhere to adobe styles. Adobe is a recipe for energy-efficient construction. Mix water, sand, straw, dirt, and let it dry in the desert sun. This earthen construction retains heat in the winter and releases heat in the summer. This is an imprint from the religious and sacred roots of Santa Fe.

Spanish settlers revamped the preexisting Pueblo adobe architecture by adding the kiva fireplace to the interior and the horno to the exterior. Kivas gain their name from round, Pueblo ceremonial chambers. The kiva fireplaces also are round-shaped and usually are in the corner of a room. The horno is an outdoor, beehive-shaped cooking tool inspired by Moorish structures in Spain. These features integrate both the fortress appeal of Spanish, Catholic missions and the intimacy of Pueblo ceremonial rooms.

However, since the Spanish Conquest, there have been many adaptations of adobe architecture in Santa Fe. While many retailers and modern home builders use the words "Santa Fe style" loosely, there are exact qualities reserved for different styles. The most common styles in Santa Fe are pueblo revival style and territorial style.

Local Architecture Terminology

  • Vigas
    • Exposed round logs that act is ceiling beams
  • Canales
    • Decorative drain spouts
  • Latillas
    • Small branchs that intersect vigas