Embracing the desert

Jennifer Marmon
Wednesday 03 Nov 2010

PAR designs eighteen single-family residences in the Mojave Desert

Located several miles outside of Palm Springs, CA in the Mojave Desert, the Desert Houses project embraces the expansive landscape while minimising environmental and ecological impacts. PAR's site strategy involves exaggerating natural hills and valleys to form subtle boundaries between residences, thereby providing each villa with visual privacy. To keep construction costs and environmental impact to a minimum, grading only reconfigures the existing landscape, requiring no imported or exported soil for the process.

The designs aim for the closest possible relationship between interior space and the predominant presence of the desert landscape. PAR creates a seamless flow between indoors and out by orienting homes to highlight picturesque views of the sweeping desert and to take advantage of prevailing northwesterly winds for cross ventilation. Three villa typologies—Villa Y, Villa E and Villa L—are positioned around a series of courtyards. 

The contrasting forms of the three villas are unified through similar architectural massing and shared materials and details. Each property features a formal living room, dining room, family room, two guest suites, a master suite, and a staff area. Compact building footprints provide each villa with over 2,000 sq ft of outdoor living space including a private pool, a fireplace, and dining and lounging areas.

Sustainable development strategies such as solar roofs, thermal massing, cross ventilation, shaded glazing, and xeriscaping have been incorporated at masterplan and building scales. At the masterplan scale, roadways and driveways have been designed for natural drainage and visual integration through the use of decomposed granite paving.

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