"Life thrives in the shadow of the boulders" was the concept behind this robust home in Scottsdale, AZ.

Amit Upadhye designed a house in the desert, capturing the essence of the native climate to create a dwelling sensitive to the phenomenological aspects of living within the desert. Memories and visions of boulders and shadows in the desert were borrowed in the formation of the project. It was through these borrowed moments of the desert that brought the concepts of micro-climates and desert living to the Essence of the Desert House. The boulders act as heat sinks and as thermal masses.
The Native Americans were aware of this phenomenon, often building homes in the shadows of such boulders. It is through this challenging and yet engaging nature of the Sonoran Desert that allows for meaningful and poetic dialogue between place and built environment, creating opportunities for natural phenomena to be translated into meaningful architecture rooted in the nature and essence of the desert.

Images of boulders were constant through out the design of the project, being used metaphorically to create the walls of the residence. These walls cast desirable shadows on the east and west parts of the project were the family would be spending most of their time. The house is separated from the garage by a two-story high chasm that runs north to south, acting as the spine of the composition. This spine connects the main house to the detached guest house to the north through the open patio.

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Modern home with Outdoor, Concrete Pools, Tubs, Shower, Back Yard, Grass, Walkways, Gardens, Large Pools, Tubs, Shower, Lap Pools, Tubs, Shower, Hardscapes, Swimming Pools, Tubs, Shower, Trees, Large Patio, Porch, Deck, Landscape Lighting, Concrete Patio, Porch, Deck, and Metal Patio, Porch, Deck. from the pool looking west into sunset Photo  of Essence of the DesertView Photos

from the pool looking west into sunset

Modern home with Exterior, Concrete Siding Material, Metal Siding Material, Brick Siding Material, Flat RoofLine, and House Building Type. Inspired by the color of Strawberry Hedgehog cactus thriving in the front yard of the house, the window wants to be an abstract flower drawing guests toward the front entrance. The wall lights are abstract luminarias of the southwest landscape. Photo 2 of Essence of the DesertView Photos

Inspired by the color of Strawberry Hedgehog cactus thriving in the front yard of the house, the window wants to be an abstract flower drawing guests toward the front entrance. The wall lights are abstract luminarias of the southwest landscape.

Modern home with Outdoor, Swimming Pools, Tubs, Shower, Hardscapes, Concrete Pools, Tubs, Shower, Lap Pools, Tubs, Shower, Trees, Large Pools, Tubs, Shower, Metal Patio, Porch, Deck, Grass, Salt Water Pools, Tubs, Shower, Walkways, Large Patio, Porch, Deck, Back Yard, and Concrete Patio, Porch, Deck. Fabric patio that connects the main house to the guest house. Photo 3 of Essence of the DesertView Photos

Fabric patio that connects the main house to the guest house.

Modern home with Kitchen, Metal Counter, Microwave, Refrigerator, Wall Oven, Ceiling Lighting, Range Hood, Cooktops, Dishwasher, Concrete Floor, Engineered Quartz Counter, Wood Cabinet, Glass Tile Backsplashe, Pendant Lighting, and Undermount Sink. Double height kitchen with the warm mass of cabinets rising like a stalagmite in the cavern scaling the height while the hung pendant lights from ceiling coming down like stalactites to the human scale. Photo 4 of Essence of the DesertView Photos

Double height kitchen with the warm mass of cabinets rising like a stalagmite in the cavern scaling the height while the hung pendant lights from ceiling coming down like stalactites to the human scale.

Modern home with Exterior, Concrete Siding Material, House Building Type, Brick Siding Material, and Flat RoofLine. South facade with a robust CMU block. The entrance scrim is the abstract medieval gate announcing the entrance with a man gate scale opening scaling it down to human scale, leading to a small courtyard inside. The fabric scrim filters the harsh south light in the the courtyard and gives privacy from the road. Photo 5 of Essence of the DesertView Photos

South facade with a robust CMU block. The entrance scrim is the abstract medieval gate announcing the entrance with a man gate scale opening scaling it down to human scale, leading to a small courtyard inside. The fabric scrim filters the harsh south light in the the courtyard and gives privacy from the road.

Modern home with Kitchen, Microwave, Cooktops, Metal Counter, Range Hood, Dishwasher, Pendant Lighting, Refrigerator, Wood Cabinet, Wall Oven, Undermount Sink, Glass Tile Backsplashe, and Concrete Floor. Lofted kitchen, sealed integrally colored concrete floors. The tiny frosted glass window only glows on owners' marriage anniversary for 2 minutes. Photo 6 of Essence of the DesertView Photos

Lofted kitchen, sealed integrally colored concrete floors. The tiny frosted glass window only glows on owners' marriage anniversary for 2 minutes.

Modern home with Outdoor, Large Patio, Porch, Deck, Hardscapes, Swimming Pools, Tubs, Shower, Concrete Fences, Wall, Back Yard, Trees, Grass, Landscape Lighting, Metal Patio, Porch, Deck, Large Pools, Tubs, Shower, and Concrete Patio, Porch, Deck. from Pavilion looking at the master suite, family room and lofted kitchen Photo 7 of Essence of the DesertView Photos

from Pavilion looking at the master suite, family room and lofted kitchen

Modern home with Outdoor, Trees, Front Yard, and Metal Fences, Wall. South facade with minimal openings and recesses Photo 9 of Essence of the DesertView Photos

South facade with minimal openings and recesses

Modern home with Exterior, Flat RoofLine, House Building Type, and Concrete Siding Material. Main house patio connecting to Guest house patio. The both meet at the entry courtyard to the Guest house. The notch in the masonry fence wall receives the setting sun of the owners' marriage anniversary. Photo 10 of Essence of the DesertView Photos

Main house patio connecting to Guest house patio. The both meet at the entry courtyard to the Guest house. The notch in the masonry fence wall receives the setting sun of the owners' marriage anniversary.

Modern home with Outdoor, Lap Pools, Tubs, Shower, Grass, Concrete Pools, Tubs, Shower, Large Pools, Tubs, Shower, Swimming Pools, Tubs, Shower, Landscape Lighting, Gardens, Garden, Back Yard, Concrete Fences, Wall, and Trees. from Pavilion. Backyard overview Photo 11 of Essence of the DesertView Photos

from Pavilion. Backyard overview

Modern home with Exterior, Concrete Siding Material, House Building Type, and Flat RoofLine. The notch in the masonry fence wall receives the setting sun of the owners' marriage anniversary. Photo 12 of Essence of the DesertView Photos

The notch in the masonry fence wall receives the setting sun of the owners' marriage anniversary.

Modern home with Outdoor, Landscape Lighting, Trees, Concrete Patio, Porch, Deck, Front Yard, Boulders, Hardscapes, and Gardens. masonry West and South wall joinery giving rise to the corner window. Luminarias leading down to Fabric entry scrim.  Photo 13 of Essence of the DesertView Photos

masonry West and South wall joinery giving rise to the corner window. Luminarias leading down to Fabric entry scrim.

Modern home with Dining Room, Storage, Bar, Ceiling Lighting, Concrete Floor, Table, and Pendant Lighting. Dining room with a covered patio and fabric curtain(open position) for privacy and harsh south sun. Photo 14 of Essence of the DesertView Photos

Dining room with a covered patio and fabric curtain(open position) for privacy and harsh south sun.

Modern home with Exterior, Flat RoofLine, Concrete Siding Material, and House Building Type. Double height Kitchen viewed from backyard.  Photo 15 of Essence of the DesertView Photos

Double height Kitchen viewed from backyard.

Modern home with Outdoor, Concrete Fences, Wall, Large Patio, Porch, Deck, Desert, Trees, Metal Patio, Porch, Deck, Side Yard, Landscape Lighting, Post Lighting, and Back Yard. Concrete stem wall mutates and rises to give birth to the window composition. The notch in the masonry fence wall receives the setting sun of the owners' marriage anniversary. Photo 16 of Essence of the DesertView Photos

Concrete stem wall mutates and rises to give birth to the window composition. The notch in the masonry fence wall receives the setting sun of the owners' marriage anniversary.

Modern home with Dining Room, Table, Concrete Floor, Pendant Lighting, Storage, and Ceiling Lighting. Entry courtyard to the right and dinning room in the front flanked by covered glass patio. Photo 17 of Essence of the DesertView Photos

Entry courtyard to the right and dinning room in the front flanked by covered glass patio.

Modern home with Dining Room, Ceiling Lighting, Pendant Lighting, Concrete Floor, and Table. Dining room seen from hallway. Pantry to the right with orange barn door. Photo 18 of Essence of the DesertView Photos

Dining room seen from hallway. Pantry to the right with orange barn door.

Modern home with Hallway and Concrete Floor. Fabric scrim screen the view to the road and casting cool ambient light in the entry courtyard. Photo 19 of Essence of the DesertView Photos

Fabric scrim screen the view to the road and casting cool ambient light in the entry courtyard.

Modern home with Exterior, House Building Type, Flat RoofLine, Concrete Siding Material, and Brick Siding Material. Fabric scrim is beveled slightly inward as gesture to invite guests in to the entry court behind. Photo 20 of Essence of the DesertView Photos

Fabric scrim is beveled slightly inward as gesture to invite guests in to the entry court behind.

Architect
Interior Design
Landscape Design
  • Bill Tonneson
Builder
  • First Choice LLC
Photographer
  • Matt Winquist

Overview

Bedrooms
  • 6
  • Full Baths
  • 5
  • Partial Baths
  • 2
  • Structure
  • House (Single Residence)
  • Style
  • Modern
  • Year
  • 2008
  • Square Feet
  • 6000
  • Lot Size
  • 1.25 Acre