Rammed Earth Walls Tie This Eco-Friendly Home to the Desert

Spanning a desert wash, a modern residence in Arizona embraces its natural surroundings with minimal impact.
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When Keith and Becky began planning for their new family home on a lot in Paradise Valley, they worried that the desert wash bisecting the site would severely hamper their design vision.

But once the couple turned to architect Brent Kendle of Kendle Design Collaborative, they were quickly assured that the desert biome would be treated as a desired asset, rather than a stumbling block. 

The enclosed bridge allows floodwaters and local wildlife to flow through the desert wash.

Keeping his clients’ desires for a contemporary residence with minimal site impact in mind, Brent designed the 6,700-square-foot Desert Wash home in three parts.

The Desert Wash Home floor plan

The entrance, along with the guest suite and office, are located on the southern end of the site in a compact volume. This area is connected to the bulk of the house to the north via an enclosed bridge elevated over the wash, which periodically floods throughout the year.

A dramatic roof overhang with Douglas Fir soffits and rammed earth walls frame the entrance.

The natural palette and integration of outdoor living rooms blend the house into the desert landscape. In addition to rammed earth, integral color-synthetic stucco was used for the exterior walls.

To tie the unique home into the landscape, Brent relied on rammed earth walls, a neutral color palette, and expansive glazing that blurs the line between the indoors and out.

A north-facing view of the open great room and master suite to the left from the desert wash.

Fleetwood sliding pocket-doors erase the boundaries between indoor/outdoor living in the great room.

"Throughout the home, you experience the site-sensitivity of the project through its unique palette and how the residence respects the natural qualities of the site," he explains. "The home nestles itself into the earth, while also respecting the natural topography of the site by spanning over the ancient wash."

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This outdoor room is flanked by rammed earth walls constructed from soil excavated on site.

Turning the wash into a focal point not only "sets us right in nature," says Keith in a video, but it has also created a "freeway" for local wildlife and an endless source of entertainment with educational opportunities for the couple’s two young children.

When the house was built in 2016, the couple's children were small enough to freely explore the space beneath the bridge.

In this view seen from the entry foyer, full-height glazing lines one side of the bridge, while the clients' art collection can be found on the right.

A peek inside the office located on the front end of the home along with the entrance foyer and guest suite.

The master bedroom frames sweeping landscape views via a corner window.

A freestanding soaking tub in the master bath is perfectly placed beneath a corner window shaded by the roof overhang.

Verano-brushed 12x24 limestone flooring lines the great room. Ample glazing lets in plenty of natural light.

A three-inch Calcutta Prima slab was used on the kitchen range wall and backsplash.

Project Credits:

Architect of Record: Kendle Design Collaborative / @kendledesign

Builder / General Contractor: MAK Construction

Structural Engineer: Ph Structural

Civil Engineer: Cottrell Engineering Group

Landscape Design: Exteriors by Chad Robert

Other: Advocate-RCA


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