Gallery: Exceptional Earth-Walled Home is a Desert Oasis


This truly stunning home in Scottsdale, Arizona offers a great lesson in site-appropriate design. The large roof overhangs and massive rammed earth walls help keep it cool in a desert environment. Designed by architectural firm Kendle Design, the home is open to the desert light and views but maintains its privacy from the surrounding neighbor’s traditional European knockoffs. The space is both austere and grand.

At 8000 square feet this is not a modest home. It is split nearly in half – one part for the owners and one for guests and family. While having a large footprint, the design significantly reduces its impact by using soil from site to construct the walls. These massive earthen walls can dramatically reduce the need for AC, and can be cooled at night by opening the windows. The generously cantilevered copper-clad butterfly roof keeps the home’s floor-to-ceiling glass in the shade and provides ample outdoor space to relax in. A rain catchment system is also used to water the garden. One green building mantra this home excels in is “a green building is a beautiful building.” That is why it earned the Gold Nuggets Award Grand Prize in Residential Design.

+ Kendle Design Collaborative

Via Contemporist


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  2. ChristopherS September 5, 2010 at 5:50 pm

    Jill – Thanks, an excellent commentary and thoughtful, professional rebuttal to the [former, we assume] reader who viewed the property in urban Scottsdale, as you say, \”hardly a wilderness . . . \” It\’s important to convey and for readers to understand architectural choices and construction in context with not only the environment, but the economic, cultural, aesthetic and religious dreams-and-desires of owners. Unlike \”Edgejr,\” I am happy to sign my name . . . Christopher Springmann

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  5. Jill Fehrenbacher May 15, 2010 at 9:17 pm

    Edgejr – While you may have a point about the not-so-greenness of the size of the house (and pool), you seem to be misreading/misrepresenting certain facts in the article — and missing the bigger picture. The house is not ‘in the middle of the desert’ as you state – it is in a residential area of Scottsdale AZ – a city with a population of 250,000+ people – hardly the wilderness. This is clearly stated in the above article. While suburbs may not be particularly green, it is not like this house is built in ‘virgin habitat’. And nowhere is it written or implied that a road was built to get to this house…

    And the reason we decided to run a piece on this building is because it uses very interesting/innovative green building techniques such as rammed earth walls and rain water cachement – about as green as you get when it comes to home construction. The house may be huge but it is notable for these details.

  6. edgejr May 15, 2010 at 4:16 pm

    Let me see if I’ve got this right. A house in the middle of the desert has a pool, and Inhabitat thinks this is a green building???? As Inhabitat has grown, it has surely lost its way. At least highlight the problems with a building, not just post gushing reviews and gloss over the problems. What about the virgin habitat that’s lost by putting this house in the middle of the desert? What about the road built to get the owners and their guests there?

    Read more: Exceptional Earth Walled Home is a Desert Oasis | Inhabitat – Green Design Will Save the World

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