Joshua Tree, California, USA
Anticipated fall 2024
Project Category: Residential, Ground-up
Site Area: 217,800,000 square feet
Floor Area: 2,100 square feet
The client couple wanted a desert house that provided a radical contrast to their city house. While Joshua Tree is very popular for its rugged landscape and expressive desert trees, the adjacent desert offers extraordinary long views and a vast sky, unblemished by light pollution, and showcasing a miraculous night penumbra of stars. The sense of space and emptiness is otherworldly. Ten minutes North of Joshua Tree town, the lot on Saddleback Road is 5 acres, and with careful orientation one can face in a South Westerly direction avoiding connecting to other rural homesteads.
The desert environment is conducive to a more spiritual and artistic lifestyle, so the house is laid out in a way to promote contemplation and connection to the extraordinary long views. Fragmented concrete block walls create a proscenium effect, where the visitor emerges from the tri-angular front courtyard to the enclosed living space and then the pool terrace shaped as a kind of amphitheater of the universe. Beyond the terrace, Mount San Jacinto and the San Bernadino Mountains are in the distance framing the desert plateau.
The house consists of three bedrooms, living, dining, kitchen and two bathrooms. Living and dining are treated as one big social space connected to the pool terrace. The social kitchen includes a separate BBQ terrace. Materials used on the house are robust and basic to complement the surrounding landscape. Concrete block incorporating a local stone aggregate blends into the sandy earth. The staggered pattern was developed to facilitate air flow through the walls and thus mitigate the impacts of the occasional harsh desert winds. The solar array pergola shades the terrace and provides all electricity required for the well-insulated house.
Through Joshua Tree’s hot, dry summers and cool winters, the house is intended to be flexible in accommodating multiple uses and family members, and in addition, serving as a vacation rental retreat for desert visitors. It is intended to host celebrations for special occasions, pool parties and hot spa nights, easter egg hunts and Moroccan style feasts and sound baths.