A residence that embraces the rustic desert climate and frames the chameleon-like vistas

Sited on a rocky desert plateau outside of Palm Desert, USA this single-family residence by Aidlin Darling Design is tightly nestled within a constellation of boulders, overlooking the Coachella Valley and the San Jacinto Mountain Range beyond. The materials of the home were chosen to quietly contrast the lighter palette of the desert landscape. The blackened wood siding is pine wood that is acetylated, burnt, wire-brushed, stained, and sealed. All of these treatments are intended to provide a highly textured finish that is bug and rot-resistant, and minimizes movement within a climate known for its large diurnal temperature swings.

The interior is a collage of concrete, wood, stone, and steel, each responding to its immediate application to maximize durability while providing the home with warmth and a soulful nesting quality. The diagram of the home is a triptych of elements: a floating roof plane, a collection of wooden volumes, and two concrete anchor walls.

The brief from the clients, a couple looking for a retreat in the desert well away from their urban lives, was simple: create a modest home that didn’t remove a single Pinyon tree, embraced the rustic desert climate, and framed the always changing chameleon-like vistas from within.

After camping on the site to intimately observe and absorb—the nuances of the micro-climate, the vast diurnal temperature swings from day to night, the specific positioning of the existing trees and sculptural boulders, and the power of the everchanging light conditions on the surrounding mountain ranges—an attitude about the home began to emerge. The home would perform as a simple framing device for the occupant to observe the dynamic surrounding terrain. The structure would be exceedingly quiet and crisp in its geometry, intentionally contrasting the organic forms of the desert and low to the ground to minimize its presence.

The square floating roof performs numerous functions. On the climatic side, it hovers over the home providing respite from the beating sun both in its opaque form and as a porous wooden lattice. A singular aperture is carved out of the roof plane, framing the dramatic sky above while providing the pool area with ample sun exposure.

Below the roof plane is seven rectilinear volumes that contain the home’s program. Conceptually they began as a singular rectilinear mass that splits apart and slides out into the landscape to maximize the experience of the surrounding terrain and create a critical void in the center of the home. This void became both the entry and the dining room–a space where the public and private spaces meet.

While the wooden volumes house the critical program for the home, the entry sequence from garage to the house is articulated by the orientation and form of two concrete entry walls. They are intentionally juxtaposed to create a void between them, ultimately guiding the occupant to the glazed entry of the home. The parallel concrete walls not only frame the entry and the dining room beyond but most importantly the heroic view to the East and the Coachella Valley below.

The materials of the home were chosen to quietly contrast with the lighter palette of the desert landscape. The blackened wood siding is pine wood that is acetylated, burnt, wire-brushed, stained, and sealed. All of these treatments are intended to provide a highly textured finish that is both bug and rot-resistant and minimizes movement within a climate known for its large diurnal temperature swings. The interior is a collage of concrete, wood, stone, and steel, each responding to its immediate application to maximize durability while providing the home with warmth and a soulful nesting quality.

Design and info © Aidlin Darling Design

Images © Adam RouseJoe Fletcher and Aidlin Darling Design

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