Top 5 Homes of the Week That Boldly Complement the Rugged Desert
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1. Thunderbird Heights Residence
Architect: Stuart Silk Architects, Location: Rancho Mirage, California
From the architect: "Originally built in the 1960s, the challenge for this project was how to update a midcentury modern house without sacrificing its charm. Situated on a 1.3-acre site perched on a plateau above Coachella Valley, the rugged, inhospitable Santa Rosa Mountains rise immediately from the back yard; bighorn sheep can often be seen wandering on the rocks above. The 6,357-square-foot house sits roughly in the middle of the property; entry is off the driveway and through a private courtyard."
2. Ridge Mountain Residence
Architect: Ehrlich Yanai Rhee Chaney Architects, Location: Palm Springs, California
From the architect: "Envisioned as a sculptural piece that grows from the existing landscape, the Ridge Mountain Residence [takes] advantage of the incredible vistas to the valleys, open spaces, and untouched surrounding areas [of] Palm Springs. The house dissolves the barriers between indoors and out by integrating sliding doors and operable windows to facilitate natural ventilation which also creates an uninterrupted flow from the shared space to the infinity edge pool. The extreme topography changes of the site help screen the house from adjacent properties and cul-de-sac. The site is accessed via a drive which is conceived as a canyon that is carved through the eight foot tall rock face rising from the curb below. The house harmonizes with its natural habitat and echoes the subtle beauty of its desert location, and accordingly will have low impact in its remote location."
3. Casa Marana
Architect: SKL Architects, Location: Tucson, Arizona
From the architect: "Casa Marana is a small home built in the desert outside of Tucson, Arizona, with views of the Tortolita and Catalina Mountains. The residence integrates with the landscape by using careful massing, natural materials, and preserving the existing topography and vegetation. The home is oriented around a natural alignment of several saguaro cacti that lead you through the site. The entry sequence begins over a bridge that connects the garage with the main house and preserves a natural arroyo that runs through the property. The home is organized as three adobe boxes that contain the private areas of the home such as the master suite, den and laundry, and a guest house. A main roof connects the masses and houses the public and social program of the residence: the kitchen, living room, and dining area."
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4. Troon Modern
Architect: Brent Kendle / Kendle Design Collaborative, Location: Scottsdale, Arizona
From the architect: "A bold yet minimal residence contrasts against the organic softness of the desert floor and rising Pinnacle Peak to the east. The geometric layout of the planters and sharp edges of blocks walls, accented with dark metal slots and apertures, stand against the backdrop of the mountain and desert brush. The plan is carefully choreographed to shield views of the neighboring properties while an ample wall of retracting glass choreographs the flow of air and light, allowing the home to become an extension of nature."
5. Chino Canyon House
Architect: Hundred Mile House, Location: Palm Springs, California
From the architect: "This project is a renovation and addition to a custom-built home built in 1954 at the base of San Jacinto Mountain in Palm Springs, California. The original layout, post-and-beam construction, wall of custom wooden windows, and unique architectural detailing are reminiscent of Cliff May’s iconic Rancho homes, yet the original architect is unknown. The primary goal with the program was to maintain the unique character of the original structure while upgrading the home to be more energy efficient, spacious, and functional. Square footage was more than doubled, but the street presence was kept minimal. The new L-shaped footprint wraps around an entry courtyard and was inspired by classic ranch homes of the Southwest. The original siting of the house fully considered the desert sun, keeping the main living area and window wall in shade for most of the day with deep eaves and a Northwest exposure. The addition extrapolates on the thoughtful siting and fully considers the home’s desert location. The material palette is inspired by the desert—raw, harsh, but minimal. Rusted steel fencing and courtyard walls complement a crisp sand-colored stucco, while the dark wood windows mirror the rust and add warmth and sophistication."
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