Nestled in the desert of Utah, seven miles west of St. George, rests a master planned community that's a haven for artists. Kayenta was started over 30 years ago by developer Terry Marten, who had the vision to create a community of homes designed to respect the surrounding environment. Architectural documentary filmmakers Chibi Moku captured life in the community in a recently released video, and let's just say, we're kind of jealous.
According to Joshua and Natsuko Shaffer, the couple behind Chibi Moku, Marten is a pioneer of “desert modern architecture.” Educated as an architect, Marten wanted to create homes that would protect the spectacular views, utilizing materials and colors that would blend in with the desert. The homes in Kayenta are low-lying, with plenty of windows so residents can appreciate the splendor that surrounds them.
Marten brought the spirit of southern California to the Utah community. Kayenta began as “a hybrid of beach culture and desert living” and the homes in the community also have a southwestern flair. Kayenta homes incorporate a variety of “energy-efficient features” and draw on passive solar design. Some are equipped with solar panels.
Builder Brent Smith summed up the vision behind the houses. He said, “It’s really important in architecture that a house grace the landscape, so when you see that house, and you have all the environment around it – the cliffs and everything else – it blends in.”
The Shaffers describe Marten as “a very special man who never cared about money in his life.” Now in his 80’s, Marten has watched other like-minded people flock to Kayenta and embrace his dream. Some of the residents said in the documentary that since most have come to Kayenta from elsewhere, they all want to be there, and that’s part of what makes Kayenta such a special place to reside.
The 2,000 acre Kayenta community is still open to new residents with lots of up to two acres. There’s also an inn there if people want to experience desert living without committing to living there full time.
Images courtesy of Chibi Moku