- Garden Gate
- Bill Lesh
Situated in Canyon Pass, this residence blurs the boundary between the exposed rock of a Saguaro dotted hillside and the clean linearity of a modern desert dwelling through gentle material transitions, minimal site impact, and a philosophy of conscious intervention that seeks to preserve and affirm the Sonoran desert.
Guests are drawn through a Cholla grove and arrive in the shelter of the Tortolita Mountains. The entry pulls guests through the filtered light and flowing air of a constructed box canyon, taking them beneath the home to a garden and stairway that opens to a pristine hillside. The unencumbered, shifting views reveal the designer’s ethos; to touch lightly on the desert, to maximize access to the vistas, and to optimize a smaller program for the owners.
The architectural design solution was achieved by drawing the weight of the program to the second floor and tethering the house within the lee of the natural rock outcropping. Interior circulation is along a single circulation spine, open at each end to extend the views to the outside. The elevated profile stretches the horizon out and down to better serve the home’s secondary purpose as an astronomical observatory.
The house construction uses load bearing masses of exposed masonry with a series of exposed steel beams. The steel allows the roof deep overhangs as it cantilevers out into the desert. The cantilevers extend the feeling of space while maintaining a modest building envelope. Cool air filters up from the shaded lower cavity of the house and through the perforated deck and open bridge. The residence uses passive day lighting in addition to active solar photovoltaics, fulfilling most of the years energy needs.
The design of this residence emphasizes an essential need to live in the desert as an integrated, respectful observer of the changing sky and the shifting natural landscape.
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