The Tucson Mountain Retreat is located within the Sonoran Desert; an extremely lush, exposed, arid expanse of land that emits a sense of stillness and permanency, and holds mysteries of magical proportions. The home is carefully sited in response to the adjacent arroyos, rock out-croppings, ancient cacti, animal migration paths, air movement, sun exposure and views. Great effort was invested to minimize the physical impact of the home in such a fragile environment, while at the same time attempting to create a place that would serve as a backdrop to life and strengthen the sacred connections to the awe-inspiring mystical landscape.
Intentionally isolating the parking over 400 feet from the house, one must traverse and engage the desert by walking along a narrow footpath toward the house, passing through a dense clustered area of cacti and Palo Verde that obscure direct views of the home Upon each progressive footstep, the house slowly reveals itself, rising out of the ground. The entry sequence, a series of playfully engaging concrete steps, dissolves into the desert. As one ascends, each step offers an alternative decision and a new adventure. Through this process, movement slows and senses are stimulated, leaving the rush of city life behind.
The home is primarily made of Rammed Earth, a material that uses widely available soil, provides desirable thermal mass and has virtually no adverse environmental side effects. Historically vernacular to arid regions, it fits well within the Sonoran Desert, while at the same time it embodies inherent poetic qualities that engage the visual, tactile and auditory senses of all who experience it. The program of the home is divided into three distinct and isolated zones; living, sleeping, and music recording/home entertainment. Each zone must be accessed by leaving the occupied zone, stepping outside, and entering a different space. This separation resolves the clients’ desired acoustic separation while at the same time, offers a unique opportunity to continuously experience the raw desert landscape.
Rooted in the desert, where water is always scarce, the design incorporates a generous 30,000 gallon rainwater harvesting system with an advanced filtration system that makes our most precious resource available for all household uses.
Solar heat gain is reduced by orienting the house in a linear fashion along an east–west axis, and by minimizing door and window openings in the narrow east and west facades. The main living and the sleeping spaces extend into patios and open toward the south under deep overhangs that allow unadulterated views and access to the Sonoran Desert.
The overhangs provide shelter from the summer sun while allowing winter sunlight to enter and passively heat the floors and walls. They also scoop prevailing southerly breezes and enhance cross ventilation, which can be flexibly controlled by adjusting the floor-to-ceiling sliding glass doors. When the large glass doors are fully opened, the house is transformed, evoking a boundless ramada-like spirit where the desert and home become one.Location: Tucson, Arizona, USA Architect: DUST | Cade Hayes, Jesus Robles Completion date: June 2012 Project name: Tucson Mountain Retreat Project team: Cade Hayes, Jesus Robles, Dale Rush General Contractor DUST: Cade Hayes, Jesus Robles Crew: Caleb Coy, Dale Rush, Jason Gallo, Agustin Valdez Sr., Agustin Valdez JR, Cesar Valdez, Tomas Valdez, Casey Perry Interior design: DUST
Interiors team: Cade Hayes, Jesus Robles, Natalia Zieman, Kevin Osborn Custom: Furnishings DUST
Chairs: Cade Hayes
Dining table: Jesus Robles Collaboration w/ Peter Baer of Baer Joinery
Coffee tables: Peter Baer/Seva Vasiliev of Baer Joinery.
Lamp in Bedroom: Urs Peter Flueckiger Art: Mayme Kratz | Lisa Sette Gallery Art: Jim Waid Lighting: Claudia Kappl Structural engineer: Harris Engineering Services Mike Harris Plumbing/Mechanical: Engineer Otterbein Engineering, Roy Otterbein Electrical Engineer: Matthews Consulting & Design Jeff Matthews Acoustics/Home Automation Crestron: Topperfo, RPG Acoustic Mtrls ASL Home Entertainment Group: Chad Bassett
Rammed Earth Pure Build: Jeff Scheffman Concrete: Carson Concrete | John Carson, Sam Carson Electric: Tanque Verde Electric Plumbing: Etchart’s Lakeside Plumbing, Inc Fixtures: Vola, Grohe, Hans Grohe, Kaldewei Heating and Cooling: Riteway Heating and Cooling | Tim Bagnall Anne Sacks: White Onyx, Honey Onyx, Mother of Pearl Install: Just a Little Tile Inc, Kenny Mackinnon Stone Countertops: Soap Stone, White Onyx Install: Conway Tile Fixtures and Appliances: Sub Zero, Thermador, Ferguson Enterprises Cabinets: Ben Schmitt Structural Steel: Parsons Steel, Tom Glenn Main Entry Door: DUST, Hardware by Refractory Studio, Kent Willert, Fabrication by Parsons Steel Builders, Tom Glenn Aluminum Box Skylight: DUST, Fabrication by Abbott Metal Fab
Door Hardware: Valli & Valli Custom Door Hardware: DUST Spiral Stair: PI.KL studio w DUST Stair Fabrication: Parsons Steel Builders Interior wood paneling: Shou Sugi Ban Exterior wood paneling: Shou Sugi Ban Water Collection: 30,000 gallon water collection system Photography: Jeff Goldberg/ESTO