If you’ve ever wanted to ditch your snowy, chilly, or rainy stomping grounds for the heat of the desert, the following eight homes designed specifically for the desert will inspire those with even the most frugal budget. With the uprising of prefabricated homes, year-rund sun, innovative water harvesting technologies, and the ease with which new homes can pop up in a multitude of environments, the scenic hills or tranquil plains of the southwest are much less intimidating than they once were.
Blu Homes has created a chic desert getaway in southern California by combining two of its Origin modules into one beautiful home. Located in Joshua Tree, the prefab house was constructed at a 90 degree angle, leaving ample room for a shaded courtyard. An additional Origin module on site serves as a guest house. The interior is fitted with bamboo floors, ash cabinetry, and quality windows. A photovoltaic system is located over the carport, bringing the home’s eco-friendliness up a few notches.
Architect Albert Frey designed his own home as a natural continuation of the rocky Palm Springs hillside. The 800-square-foot structure includes a large boulder that juts right into the middle of his home, which was intentional and quite artistic. Frey reportedly spent a year researching the patterns of daylight on the site before breaking ground, wanting to make sure his slice of paradise was beautifully lit and within view of the tranquil landscape. Full-wall window panes invite the outdoors in, blurring the lines of nature and design.
Students from The Utah Graduate College of Architecture and Planning caught wind of a family in need and worked together to build a 1,000 square foot home, with the help of Design Build Bluff, made primarily of clay, sand, straw, and aluminum-lined water bricks. A Navajo woman and her four children were in need of a stable home after escaping an abusive environment. The house is elevated four feet off the ground to allow for natural ventilation and a rocket stove heats the family in the winter. Solar panels heat the water gathered in the 2,000 gallon rainwater cistern, making the home not only comfortable, but quite sustainable.
This time Design Build Bluff came to the aide of Harold and Helena Skow, who were building a home from a traditional kit but running into problems. The designers took one look at Harold’s sombrero and were inspired to invert the kit’s pre-made trusses because, according to the homeowner, “Everyone should have a sombrero in the desert.” The straw bale walls of the home are lined with plaster in the bedrooms to keep out the elements and large windows invite bright daylighting in this unconventional structure.
An Italian journalist who fell in love with the desert decided to move there with the help of Nottoscale. The charming 3-bedroom home is the perfect combination of privacy and fluid connection to the surrounding outdoors. Heated and cooled by a variety of systems, including hydronic radiant systems and solar energy, the home has an impressively low environmental impact. Quality insulation and energy-efficient appliances ensure the home is comfortable for its owner, as well as the personalized interior decor and low-maintenance landscaping.
Using five 20-foot long shipping containers, EcoTech constructed a custom, 2,300 square foot home for a client in the heart of the Mojave. The feature that stands out is the movable living roof, topped with native species of plants to absorb solar heat and CO2 and a greywater irrigation system. Also equipped with environmentally friendly appliances and triple-insulated walls, the home goes above and beyond traditional eco-standards. And, at $150 a square foot to construct, it serves as an inspiration for anyone living in a snowy climate.
After obtaining his architecture degree, Aaron D’Innocenzo decided to build his own dream home in the Mojave desert – no contractors, just his own vision and eight years of hard work. The 148-square-meter Jackrabbit Wash home is heated and cooled without conventional HVAC systems, instead using passive solar principles. Slate tiles and other minimalist design on the interior allow the full beauty of the desert to shine throughout.
Another gem in the Mojave, this home resulted from a collaboration between o2 Architecture and Blue Sky Homes. 1,000-square-feet of paradise comes in the form of a flat-packed structure which takes 8 weeks to build, cutting costs on transportation and waste. The sustainability of the outdoor solar panels, which heat and cool the home, are a huge plus for desert-living. But, when being outside in the sun is a must, the built-in balcony does the trick.