A student at the Frank Lloyd Wright School of Architecture has built himself one of the smallest dwellings we’ve ever seen. Dave Frazee, of the Broken Arrow Workshop, designed the Miner’s Shelter as a permanent place to sleep in the desert not far from Taliesin outside Scottsdale, Arizona. Built atop the ruins of an actual miner’s shelter, the glass-encased structure provides guests with a cozy single-bed retreat in the middle of the desert.
Frazee used the existing stone chimney and concrete walls as a base for his shelter project, placing the steel and glass box on its sturdy concrete pad. Harmonizing with the landscape, the glazed glass is joined by oxidized steel which provides privacy and support in the back of the structure, and emulates the rusty red colors of the desert. The glass sides and front door give ample lighting during the day, while candles and oil lamps provide incandescent light at night time. The side awning style windows open like wings, creating a cross breeze which effectively cools the small space inside. A glass front door can also be opened to bring in more fresh air. In the winter, the existing chimney can be used to warm the small interior.
In the footsteps of Frank Lloyd Wright, the Miner’s Shelter’s design responds to the land, cantilevering over uneven places rather than leveling the natural rock or existing structure there. The concrete ruins also serve as a patio area, with the structure overlooking the concrete pad, which is partially enclosed like a patio. Inside, a small L shaped shelf is the only structure other than the bed, which can be used to hold books or more importantly, candles. A few pictures are hung on the dark plaster walls, but the windows provide a picturesque view, directly into the desert.
Each year, students are assigned to create a temporary shelter in the desert near Taliesin, but Frazee’s Miner’s Shelter remains as a permanent fixture for other students and guests to enjoy.