While the desert can have inhospitable climates, house with the right design can provide cool interiors and outdoor decks buffeted from the extreme winds and heat. Desert houses frequently take advantage of eco-friendly materials and Modern designs to best showcase the stunning surrounding landscape and keep the costs of these houses affordable. Many architectural firms are best known for their innovative designs for desert houses. They are a great investment, whether you are looking to buy one for a seasonal retreat or are looking to live in it year-round.
1. Pioneertown, California
Designed by architect Lloyd Russell, this 1,600 home is both practical and “the ultimate desert structure” with breathtaking views. It’s built with recyclable materials and features a roll-up garage and a steel canopy instead of a traditional roof. The steel canopy shades the home and serves as a buffer against the harsh desert wind, providing the inhabitants with cool temperatures inside.
2. Kaufmann Desert House, California
This is one of Richard Neutra’s most famous homes and one of the last ones he designed. It is an important example of the International Style, an important branch of Modern architecture that disdained ornamentation and valued simple balance. Large glass doors provide great views of the desert, while other rooms have vertical-fin walls that provide protection against the heat and wind. The house has a central living and dining room with four wings branching off of it for bedrooms, servants, and kitchens.
3. High Desert Pavilion, Oregon
Located in a region of Oregon renown for the variety of outdoor sports, this house was designed both to survive in a variety of climates as well as facilitate families that wanted to ski in the morning and bike in the evening. There are both indoor and outdoor patios both for entertaining, outdoor eating, private reading, and simply watching the sunset. The design is both strikingly modernist but also practical, as the large rectangular planes also block out excess harsh sun while allowing natural light into the house. The house is designed from weathered steel with intentional rust, wood accents, and clay earth bricks from the surrounding environment.
4. Radziner Desert House, California
This prefab home designed by Marmol Radziner takes advantage of the stunning view of San Jacinto peak and nearby mountains. The outdoor deck living areas nearby double the 2000 ft interior, and the house is designed in the shape of an L to provide protection agains the environment. It also features a pool, fire pit, studio space, and guest rooms, as well as a detached carport so visitors can approach the house naturally on foot. The house is eco-friendly, with solar panels and sunshades for the warmer months, and a concrete floor to absorb heat in the colder months.
5. Circle West Desert House, Arizona
A challenge of renovating this 20-year old single-family house was the environment: vegetation had started to grow once again in the desert, so the house’s design had to be simple to complement the busy environment. The frame of the original house was perforated to allow more natural light in, and a glass facade was added to most of the house to combat glare while allowing natural light in and views of the surrounding desert. The interior is designed with white walls and bright furniture, in contrast to the zinc and glass outside walls. The sharp modern walls are also a great contrast to the spindly trees and bushes that have started to grow outside.
6. Death Valley, Nevada
This house was commissioned by two Italian journalists who fell in love with the landscape of remote Death Valley. The firm nottoscale designed this T-shaped structure with a living and dining area, three bedrooms, and a porch deck with a hot tub–they specifically opted not to have a pool. The master bedroom features floor-to-ceiling glass as well as a skylight, which is perfect for watching the stars at night. The interior is decorated with minimal color–only touches of green and red to evoke the wildlife outside.