Approached by clients who wanted to simplify their lifestyle and reconnect with the landscape, Phoenix–based Wendell Burnette Architects have designed the Hidden Valley Desert House as a "long pavilion for living."
Located on a south-facing saguaro-studded knoll, the low-lying, modern dwelling is set on a plaster-covered concrete plinth sunken into the pinkish earth in parallel to the contours running east to west.
Above the plinth hovers a shade canopy large enough to not only house all the mechanical systems, water storage, and energy supply, but also to provide sufficient shade from the harsh sun, particularly for the outdoor terraces on the west and east ends.
Sandwiched between the plinth and canopy is a "dispersed core of mass forms," explains the firm, who arranged the layout to frame focused desert views and minimize the percentage of glass to wall.
"The plinth level is lived upon as one contiguous space under one continuous canopy that connects the 2,000-square-foot indoor programmed space with 1,000 square feet of fully programmed/fully shaded outdoor space," the architects explain.
In contrast to the upper level’s seamless connection with the outdoors, the enclosed nature of the lower level is evocative of a cave.
The hidden solar-photovoltaic array and water harvesting systems on the roof draw enough natural resources to meet the clients' needs.
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Builder/ General Contractor: Verge Design Build
Structural Engineer: Rudow + Berry, Inc
Civil Engineer: SSE
Lighting Design: Creative Design in Lighting
Interior Design: Wendell Burnette Architects
Mechanical/ Plumbing: Otterbein Engineering
Electrical: Woodward Engineering
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