Location, climate, and the surroundings of the buildings play an important role in the development of architecture. A desert is a land where the presence of water is less, and high temperatures exist. The architecture in the desert area uses materials that are indigenous and easily available (such as mud) to combat the high temperatures of the place. The buildings were developed in order to cater to the limitation of constructing the area that is the durability, buildability and attractivity of the building. 

The buildings which were in the desert are as follows: 

1. Kolmanskop 

The city is located in the Namib Desert, which is located in South West Africa. The city is now a ghost town and the buildings present in the town are made of sand. The houses present in the city showcase the German architecture and the houses featured truncated roofs and windows. The air in the city is dry. 

Kolmanskop Image 1 _© wikipedia.com

2. Black Desert House, California

The house is located on the borders of Joshua Tree National Park and is designed by Oller and Pejic Architecture. The harsh sun is considered while designing the house. The site of the house is flattened by the 1960s and the slope of the hill is not staggered instead is used to design the building. The house is divided into two wings which involved a play with spaces as the outdoor spaces were also incorporated in the design. To cater to the harsh environment, a courtyard is designed between the bedrooms and living spaces. The swimming pool is located in the south-east direction and a triangular patio which is sheltered is located northwards. The living room and kitchen showcase an open plan thus forming the largest space of the house. Floor to ceiling windows are placed in a way that opens into the courtyard. The walls in the space are coloured in black in order to enhance the cave-like feeling. 

Black desert house: ©archdaily.com
Black desert house: ©archdaily.com
Black desert house: ©archdaily.com

3. Pobble House

The house is located on Dungeness Beach, United Kingdom and is designed by  British architect Guy Hollaway. The house is designed for a family and is designed to cater to the remoteness of the single beach and the fishing community. The materials used in the house are steel mesh, silvery larch and grey cement fibreboard for the purpose of providing a shield from rainfall. The framework of the house is timber. The single-story house has three blocks in a single structure. The idea of the house is to make volumes in always which responded to the location and also act as a shield from rain. 

Pobble house: ©archdaily.com
Pobble house: ©archdaily.com
Pobble house: ©archdaily.com

4. Desert Courtyard House

The house is designed by Wendell Burnette Architects and is located near Phoenix, Arizona. The material used for the rammed earth is the soil from the desert. The location of the site is the granite outcrop which is present at the lowest boundary. The living spaces are located around the living area which is covered with glass walls. The house is located on a raised platform that is made of concrete. The foundation is made using the soil that is removed during the excavation process. The house is in the world’s wettest deserts- the Sonoran Desert. The rammed earth is provided in order to protect the building from the heavy rain. 

Desert courtyard house ©dezeen.com
Desert courtyard house ©dezeen.com
Desert courtyard house ©dezeen.com

5. Lava House, Tucson, United States 

The house is located in the Tucson Mountains and is created on the alluvial soil. The location of the house is such that it lies on both desert land and the watercourses. The house has floating horizontal roof planes. The material used in the house is crushed volcanic cinder which is used on the building envelopes. 

Lava house: ©archdaily.com 
Lava house: ©archdaily.com 
Lava house: ©archdaily.com 

6. Bradley Residence, Scottsdale, United States 

The residential building is located in Scottsdale and is designed by Johnson Design Studio. The residence is oriented with living spaces and the topography drops down to 12 feet. The main highlights of the project are cantilevered beam supports, steel columns and overhangs. The other material used is glass in the form of partitions on the façade. 

Bradley Residence, Scottsdale, United States ©comtemporist.com
Bradley Residence, Scottsdale, United States ©blog.dwr.com

7. Desert House, Santa Fe. 

The house is designed by Flato Architects and is located in Santa Fe. The gallery space and the living quarter is combined, and the prime focus is on the views from the house. Low frame rooms were designed which are contrasting in nature and were designed with large vistas. The building had a large courtyard system within its outer walls. The spaces for the guests are located to the east and west. 

Desert House, Santa Fe.  1. ©archdaily.com
Desert House, Santa Fe. 2. ©world-architects.com

8. Ecolodge, Siwa, Egypt. 

The project designed in the city of Siwa, Egypt is designed by the French architects Laetitia Delubac and Christian Felix. The project is located where it overlooks the desert and is constructed using the locally available material such as mud, sun-fired bricks, palm wood, reeds, and stone. The building showcases traditional architecture as the walls are made of locally available material such as mud, sand and salt. The intent of the design is to create a retreat that incorporates guest rooms with patios, courtyards and gardens placed around the central tower which is designed with the purpose of providing the owners with separate rooms. There is a water basin that sucks the air upwards in order to keep the interior cool. 

Ecolodge, Siwa, Egypt. :  ©dezeen.com
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Ecolodge, Siwa, Egypt. :  ©dezeen.com
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Ecolodge, Siwa, Egypt. :  ©dezeen.com

9. Casa Caldera, San Rafael 

The house is located at a high altitude in Canelo Hill, United States. The house is made up of two solid volumes which are symmetrically organised around a central void. One of the volumes consists of spaces such as living spaces and kitchen and the other volume consists of two bedrooms and a bathroom. The house is designed in a way such that the cues are taken from the vernacular desert architecture. A central space separates the two volumes and is referred to as a taguan. The house can be accessed to by a sheltered courtyard space and can be closed or opened by two massive steel doors at each end. The house is developed on an open configuration which is possible due to the local climate. The materials used in the project were a mixture of red pulverized lava rock, cement, and water. This forms a semi-fluid material like concrete. The depth of the walls is such that provides thermal mass, insulation and principal structure. The building is constructed in a way that the traditional techniques were used. 

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Casa Caldera, San Rafael ©dezeen.com
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Casa Caldera, San Rafael ©dezeen.com
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Casa Caldera, San Rafael ©pinterest.com 

10. Xero Residence, Sunnyside, Phoenix

The residence is designed by the blank studio architecture in Sunnyside, Phoenix. It is situated at the two dead-end streets. The residence includes two stories in which the studio is located at the ground level and the residence is on the first floor. The floors connected with a single steel staircase. 

10 examples of buildings located in the desert Sheet
Xero Residence, Sunnyside, Phoenix: ©archdaily.com
Xero Residence, Sunnyside, Phoenix: ©archdaily.com
Xero Residence, Sunnyside, Phoenix: ©archdaily.com

Each of these buildings are in different climatic conditions. They are designed in a way that gives the best view of the desert to the occupants. The construction of the buildings has incorporated the use of the locally available material in either parts of the building or completely. The buildings are also designed in a way that suits the climatic conditions of the place. 

References :

  1. https://www.dezeen.com/2014/02/16/desert-house-oller-pejic-black-shadow/
  2. https://www.dezeen.com/2014/07/28/pobble-house-dungeness-guy-hollaway/
  3. https://www.dezeen.com/2014/08/14/desert-courtyard-house-by-wendell-burnette-architects-phoenix-rammed-earth/
  4. https://architizer.com/blog/inspiration/collections/southwest-residential/
Author

Sahiti is an architecture student in one of the top architecture institutes of the country, Sushant School of Art and Architecture. She is passionate about exploring new design ideas without compromising on the revolutionary changes in the field.

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