The harsh desert landscape is rarely a great setting for a house regardless of how often you use it. That would be the general opinion. However, as always, there are examples that prove us wrong. These houses take the desert head on and make the most of their surroundings. They adapt to the side conditions in ingenious ways and have designs that impress and inspire, making the most of the desert mountain views.
The Outpost residence
Outpost is a residence located in the high desert landscape of Idaho. It was designed by Olson Sundberg Kundig Allen Architects, a Seattle-bsed practice focused on the concept that buildings should serve as a bridge between nature and people. The project was completed in 2007 and the house also serves as a studio and workshop.
The materials in this case were chosen for their low-maintenance nature and include concrete blocks and plywood. They were also selected for their ability to withstand the extreme weather conditions and everything else that the desert throws at it.
The Rammed Earth Modern project
This is a house envisioned by Kendle Design, a practice specialized in offering creative solutions to difficult problems and creating sophisticated designs with a contemporary allure. The house is situated in Paradise Valley, Arizona, on a site measuring 4700 square meters and was completed in 2013.
The structure is modest and only has one level, designed for a simple lifestyle. It was built using simple and natural materials such as rammed earth walls, limestone floor and wood ceilings. Its design is meant to be reminiscent of the mid-century modern homes once found in the area.
The interior and exterior spaces communicate in a seamless and natural way and feel cozy and tranquil. This is also due to the scale of the building. The simplicity of the design and of the materials involved in the project allow the house to focus more on the surroundings and to highlight the views.
The Yucca Valley House 3
Located in California, USA, the Yocca Valley House 3 was finished in 2012 and fully embraces the high desert landscape near the Joshua Tree National Park. It was designed by Oller & Pejic Architecture and was a project like no other for the team.
The project raised several challenges. First of all, this was a difficult site on which several other construction were attempted but failed. The architects had to think things through in order to find the appropriate way to build here and to take advantage of this wonderful site with amazing views and surroundings.
The client wanted the house to be like a shadow which is a welcoming sight here in the desert, serving as a resting place for the tired eyes. After a long research period, a decision was made. The house was to replace the missing mountain that once occupied the area and was to look like a shadow of the rock. In order to make that happen, dark colors were used throughout, giving the house a cave-like feeling.
The Tucson Mountain Retreat
Another very interesting project that embraces the harsh landscape is the Tucson Mountain Reterat found in Arizona. It was completed in 2012 by DUST, a multidisciplinary studio set to engage and make the most of every site. The founders are natives to the desert and thus share a special relationship with the land.
Situated in the Sonoran Desert, the house was designed in relation to the rocks, cacti and everything else around it. One of the main concerns of the project was to minimize the impact of the structure on the environment in order to preserve its mystery and charm. As a result, one of the decisions made was to intentionally isolate the parking space away from the house, connecting it to the house through a narrow pathway trough the desert.
The Desert House
Here, in the Joshua Tree National Park of California, the atmosphere is unique and can feel overwhelming at times. It’s where you’ll find the Desert House, a private home built here in 1993 by Kendrick Bangs Kellogg. Its design is truly outstanding, making the house stand out in a unique way.
The main concept was to make the house a part of the desert, connecting it to its surroundings in a natural and organic way. The design, shapes and materials used were inspired by the desert. The house has a rugged shell that protects its warm and welcoming interior and the organic shapes have both a masculine and a feminine charm, giving the structure a very original look.
The Hidden Valley House
One of the challenges of building in the desert or any other difficult zone is having to transport everything on the site and having to work in harsh conditions. This challenge was easily overcome by Marmol Radziner when building the Hidden Valley House. The solution was to make this a prefab home. The main idea was to build a vacation home that would engage and celebrate nature with an emphasis on indoor-outdoor living.
The house is located in Moab, Utah and has two bedroom and two bathroom plus a series of living spaces spread on 2,500 square feet of space. The architects made sure to integrate sustainable design elements in its construction, allowing the house to become a natural part of the desert and ensuring a low-maintenance nature.
The interior spaces seamlessly communicate with expansive decks and have floor-to-ceiling windows that open them to the surroundings, allowing panoramic views to become a part of the interior design. The solid metal frame allows the house to withstand the difficult conditions on the site.
The Four Eyes House
The Four Eyes House is a contemporary weekend retreat built in Coachella Valley in Southern California. It was a project by Edward Ogosta Architecture and, unlike other desert structures, it doesn’t try to become one with the landscape but rather enjoys standing out. The house sits on a 3,800 square foot site and was designed in a rather unusual way.
Rather than giving it a typical domestic functional program, the architects were asked to design the house in a way that would emphasize a series on on-site phenomenal events. The four towers that make up its structure were oriented toward different areas in order to capture the morning sunrise , the evening city lights and the nighttime stars.
Each tower has an opening directed toward the intended view as well as a small bedroom only big enough to accommodate a bed. Circulation within the towers is ensured by ladders, spiral staircases and various types of stairs. The social spaces are situated on the ground floor and share their own special connection with the landscape.
The Desert Villa
The Desert Villa is a rather special project in the sense that the structure doesn’t really exist. The fact that this was a project by Studio Aiko, a studio specialized in CG content and visual effects should explain things a bit clearly.
This was the team’s first attempt at merging the beautiful desert scenery and landscape with the modern architecture of a villa. Even though the house doesn’t really exist, it still looks very real when using a headset. All the details come to life in an awesome and really impressive way.
The Rock Reach House
This project was completed in 2010 by o2 Archtiecture and the house is located in the Mojave Desert, in California. This is actually a prototype home which is available for short-term rentals. It sits on a 1,000 square feet of space and has a modest and simple design. It was built with durable materials and was conceived in a sustainable way.
A lot of importance was given to the impact the house would have on the environment. Also, another concern was to manage the maximization of the views while offering enough privacy. The house has a 90 square meter floor plan. Inside it integrates two bedrooms and a bathroom and there’s also a 30 square meter deck that seamlessly communicates with the interior areas and the surroundings.
The deck sits on columns and floats above the ground. The location of the site and the seismic activity in the area meant that the envelope of the house had to be modular and flexible. Some of the elements were built off-site and delivered here, making the construction process easier and more time-efficient.
The Desert Courtyard House
This is a house located in the Sonoran Desert, Arizona. It’s built around a central courtyard and has a design that seeks to harmonize the connection between interior and exterior. The house was designed by Wendell Burnette Architects. In order to maintain the site’s character and beauty and to provide adequate views of the scenery, the architects used carefully selected materials and integrated elements present on the site such as saguaro cacti into the house.
Granite boulders and the local vegetation are complemented by stone patios and a pool of water and these are linked to the interior spaces through sliding glass doors as well as a glass floor on the main walkway. In addition, soil removed during the excavation was used in the house’s rammed earth walls.
The Desert Wing House
Unlike its neighbors, the Desert Wing house has a design inspired and shaped by the conditions present on the site. Located in the Sonoran Desert, the house was a project by Kendle Design Collaborative. It has thick rammed earth walls that comes from the site and the rooms are oriented towards specific views.
Concrete walls and partitions divide the interior into several zones, making sure each has the necessary privacy and absorbing the heat during the day so it can be released during the night. The roof has an angular design and is supported by steel columns. Clerestory windows surround all the interior spaces offering natural light and views.
The Paso Robles Residence
As the name suggests, this is a residence located in Paso Robles, in California. It was designed and built by Aidlin Farling Design and sits on a site measuring 80 acres. The design of the house was directly influenced by the region and the site conditions. The fluctuations in temperature presented a big challenge.
The architects’ response was to build masonry walls that connect the house to its surroundings. The walls also organize the interior space into various zones. The center of the house is a covered outdoor living room. Large overhangs offer shadow during the arid desert days and the overall design is meant to ensure passive ventilation. The house also uses photovoltaic panels.
The Jarson Residence
This is a residence located in Paradise Valley, Arizona. It was designed by Will Bruder + Partners. It sits close to a mountain preserve and has a design that captures the view of the McDowell Mountains. The house was not meant to blend in, hence its dark facade that contrasts with the natural landscape. Instead, it was meant as a place of reflection for its owners.
The house was built on two levels. It has a simple roof often found on sheds. Deep overhangs give the house a sculptural form while materials such as steel and copper offer it a weathered look. The ground floor houses the living area, dining space, a media room and a studio. The home office, the bedrooms as well as the entry are situated on the upper level.
The combination of materials used throughout includes cork and concrete for the floors, glass for the walls as well as cherry wood and stainless steel for the furniture. The entryway and hallway on the upper floor serve as art galleries for the owner’s collection.
The STAAB Residence
Sitting on a 279 square meter site in Scottsdale, the STAAB Residence tries to eliminate the neighboring houses from the context in an effort to establish to a beautiful connection with the site and the surroundings. The architects at Chen + Suchart Studio focused on the distant views of the McDowell Mountains and the valley, trying to make the most of them. The house has two floors. The lower level is defined by the presence of a protected courtyard space with a pool while the upper floor takes advantages of the views.
A series of masonry walls frame the house while offering privacy as well as helping to edit out the neighboring structures. The garage occupies a separate volume clad in steel plates and it doubles as a divider between the pool and backyard and a neighboring house.
The interior is open and simple. The living area is a large volume that opens to the pool and backyard through sliding glass doors. Adjacent to the living space is a set of two guest bedrooms. One of them overlooks the backyard while the other is focused on the distant view to the north. The master bedroom and home office occupy the upper level.
The Desert House
Architect Marmol Radziner designed the beautiful Desert House, a prototype home located in the Desert Hot Springs of California. The house was completed in 2005 and is a prefabricated structure. It was oriented towards the San Jacinto peak in order to capture the most beautiful views of the surrounding mountains.
A series of covered outdoor spaces connect the house to its surroundings. The building is made up of four house modules and six deck modules. The north wing of the house contains the guest quarters and a studio and these are connected to the rest of the rooms through covered living spaces.
The house as a whole is an L-shaped structures. It shelters a pool and a fire pit. It was built inside a factory using steel framing. The design uses passive and active solar technologies and sustainable concepts.
The Capitol Reef Desert Dwelling
The location of this modest house is a remote desert site outside the U.S. Capitol Reef National Park. Here you can find some really impressive and amazing rock formations and the owners of the plot wanted to take advantage of that. They requested that the team at Imbue Design create a small campus of structures.
The campus had to include a main residence with a guest house and a studio extension and they all had to include cozy nooks and gathering spaces. Also, all the structures had to make the most of the views and to highlight the most interesting rock formations present on the site while preserving the existing vegetation. In addition, the whole project had to use a modest budget. The architects made sure to respect all the requests in the most wonderful way.
The Brown Residence
The Brown Residence is located in Scottsdale, Arizona and was designed by Lake|Flato Architects. It offers amazing views of the surrounding desert landscape from every room. At the same time, the design and orientation were carefully planned to edit out the neighboring buildings. This allowed the design to focus on the distant views of the mountains.
The design is simple and modest as seen from the street. However, this is not its complete form. The building sits on a slope, offering large interior spaces and large overhangs. Oversized pivot doors connect the interior living spaces with the outdoors while glass walls let natural light in and create cross ventilation.
The San Cayetano Mountain Residence
Surrounded by a rocky landscape, the site on which this house was built is located in Santa Cruz County, Arizona and occupies 2300 square feet. The house was built here in 2012 by Paul Weiner | DesignBuild Collaborative. The site sits in a remote location which is basically a dry grassland.
The residence responds to the location with a simple design and a well-organized structure where each zone takes advantage of specific elements and views. The living room area offers views of Mount Wrightzon while the other interior spaces focus on views of rock outcroppings. A deck provides the perfect spot from which to admire the surroundings.
The Arizona Desert Mountain Retreat
Another great property that takes full advantage of its location is the Desert Mountain retreat located in Scottsdale, Arizona. It was a project by architect Tor Barstad and was built using a mix of stone and other organic materials which allow the building to seamlessly blend in despite its size. The infinity edge pool is like an oasis, being complemented by a large outdoor entertainment area.
The interior has a rustic character combined with modern elegance. Wood and stone were used throughout the house specifically to capture this beautiful mix. The interior is connected to the outdoors through large glass walls and sliding doors. In addition, a series of terraces and balconies further emphasize the indoor-outdoor connection.
The Levin Residence
When building this residence in Manara, Arizona, the team at Ibarra Rosano Design Architects and the client agreed that it should have a minimal impact on the site and that it should also take maximum advantage of the surroundings and the views. The architects did more than that. They also gave the house a modern look, making it appear to be floating above he desert.
This decision was made in response to the sloping site as well in order to minimize the impact on the site. The surface on which the house is built includes a minor drainage way and this inspired the architects to link the parking area to the main house by a bridge and to allow rainwater to flow beneath it. The orientation of the house was chosen according to the optimal sun exposure and cross-ventilation as well as the views.
The Desert Nomad House
The Desert Nomad House was designed by architect Rock Joy and was built in 2005 in Arizona, at the base of the Tucson Mountains. It’s organized in three separate volumes made of rusted steel and glass. Each volume has its own function. They include a social zone composed of a kitchen, a dining space and a living area, a bedroom, an office that can also serve as a guest room and a bathroom. The property can be rented.
The interior is simple and modern, featuring hints of traditional and rustic interior design. For example, the social area features a large stainless steel kitchen island and a seating area formed of a wooden bench with an organic design, complemented by patterned area rugs. All the spaces have glass walls that connect them to the views and landscape.