The primary goals for this larger home are for the design to be relaxed, understated and well-rooted in the extraordinarily beautiful landscape. To honor this setting, the design reflects our current time and this specific place. And the home looks to the future by incorporating sustainable building practices and renewable energy systems.
The home’s design is transitional – neither purely modern nor traditional. This design reflects both Southwestern lifestyles and leading-edge methods of construction, but also the owner’s desire for a more traditional home appearance. And the home’s location in the wide-open meadow suggests a vernacular ranch setting. The overall composition is reminiscent of a homestead in a clearing.
The prominent placement of the guest casita at the street-side of the property reinforces these goals. The relatively small and low-slung casita is the home’s focal point as approaching across the meadow. It is designed with a humble pioneer ranch house scale and use in mind. The remainder of the home is behind the casita and is a modern, open-planned residence housed in building forms reminiscent of the barns, sheds and bunk houses of a working ranch. While taller than the casita, these portions of the home are either surrounded by porches or are earth-bermed into the gently sloping landscape to reduce their visual height. The design appears to have been built in a humble manner over time, and to be hewn from the land.
The main areas of the home are formed in distinct buildings, divided by lower, flat-roofed connecting elements. This reduces the apparent building mass and further settles the home into the terrain. These flat roof areas also provide extensive roof decks for the upper level. While wrapping all of the second-level sports bar and theater, the roof deck is a gap between the taller portions of the home. Situated here, there is both breezeway and courtyard effects, while providing elevated views of the surrounding terrain and home.
The landscape design further settles the home into the terrain with carefully-placed terraces and courtyard walls. The small, motorized-covered swimming pool and spa is integrated into the design with stepped landscape walls and is hidden at the back of the property. Eric Brandt also designed the landscape installation, including the pool, driveway gate and trellis. The owner requested the mature saguaro be the focal point of the main courtyard. “Mr. Big” was transplanted from the low desert near Phoenix and seems to enjoy his new home.
The exterior materials are a blended composition that provides a rustic appearance within the traditional forms of gables and Southwest stone structures. Rammed earth landscape and courtyard walls are a design highlight that visually tie to the nearby, stratified red rock cliffs. Generous eaves with exposed rafters nestle the home into the landscape and relate to the nearby forest. More than half of the roofs drain to a cistern where rain water is collected for landscape irrigation and also the raised reflecting pond / bird bath.
The home features a ground-mounted, grid-tied, 23 Kw photovoltaic system that powers the entire house, including the geothermal heating and cooling and also the pool and spa heating and filtering. Coupled with very high thermal-efficency construction and deep overhangs shading super-low-E and heat mirror glazing, the home approaches net-zero in energy use – meaning, a near-zero carbon footprint.