Desert Courtyard House

The Desert Courtyard House has been designed by Wendell Burnette Architects as a form that evolved from the surrounding landscape, with courtyard walls that literally grow from the site itself.

Desert Courtyard House
The site is a peninsula of granite outcroppings and towering Saguaro cacti surrounded on all sides by deep perennial desert washes except for a single spit of land affording access from an Ocotillo studded ridge above.
The courtyard concept intrigued the client as the comforts it offered – air, light, privacy, security, and tranquility – were the ones universally desired in a home.
Desert Courtyard House
Wendell Burnette Architects, Desert Courtyard House, Scottsdale, Arizona
For the architects, it also offered the chance to corral a piece of ancient time unencumbered by the recent development and to do so with a form that evolved from the surrounding landscape, its natural power, its geologic mass, its delicacy, one which would feel as though it had always been there. They began to ask the question “whether the courtyard walls could literally grow from the site itself, from the site excavation with no import no export required?”
Wendell Burnette Architects, Desert Courtyard House, Scottsdale, Arizona
Wendell Burnette Architects, Desert Courtyard House, Scottsdale, Arizona
Constructed from soil excavated from the site, the house is a mass of concrete and rammed earth walls that meet the sky without termination. The battered walls envelop and protect conditioned spaces that surround a central courtyard. During the daytime, the courtyard is defined by a continuous ribbon of glass, the desert floor and sky. At night, the glass dissolves and the steel plate ceiling of the interior spaces merges with the dark sky. The roof is clad in weathered steel and, when seen from above, recedes into the landscape as a deep shadow. Experience of place is prioritized by means of the project’s configuration and materiality allowing for a primordial understanding of the desert landscape.

Desert Courtyard House, Scottsdale, Arizona  
Program: single-family house
Architects: Wendell Burnette Architects
Project Team: Wendell Burnette, Thamarit Suchart, Jena Rimkus, Matthew G. Trzebiatowski, Scott Roeder, Brianna Tovsen, Chris Flodin, Colin Bruce
Contractor: The Construction Zone, Ltd.
Consultants: Leavitt – Weaver Inc, Rudow + Berry Inc, Associated Engineering, Kunka Engineering Inc, Rick Engineering, Ljusarkitektur P&O AB, Debra Dusenberry Landscape Design, Wardin Cockriel Associates
Area: 670 sqm
Completion: 2014

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