Miller Hull redefines a desert urban neighbourhood in the midst of suburbia
The barrier of distance between the exclusively residential and commercial zones is compressed to a livable dimension. Potentially daunting in the context of low‐lying suburbia, the massing of five storey buildings is modulated to a human scale, graciously introducing a viable level of density in the midst of consumptive sprawl. Within its own bounds, the project is a self‐sustaining, vibrant mixed‐use urban neighbourhood. Small commercial functions - live / work lofts and ground floor retail spaces - are mixed among the residential units, contributing a shared energy to the public spaces.
Outdoor rooms, shaped and shaded by the enclosing buildings, are the organising framework for the project. The experience of walking from home to shopping and beyond is not only protected from the intense desert elements, but enriched by a varied sequence of exterior spaces. Circulation is organised within a traditional urban grid, culminating at the heart of the site in a circular court shared by cars, pedestrians and outdoor dining. This deliberate blending of disparate activities fosters spontaneity and a rich public life.
The design response to the desert climate relies on the judicious use of thermal mass, deep overhangs, a high‐performance thermal envelope, and naturally weathering, locally manufactured materials. Native, drought‐tolerant landscaping is provided throughout the development. A 'cool tower' passively cools a public courtyard with a simple, wind‐driven technology borrowed from middle‐eastern desert vernacular, and provides a visual focus for the project. Safari Drive has been certified by Scottsdale's Green Building Program for Multi‐Family Dwellings.