Desert seems like an unlikely place for permanent living, what’s with scorching heat and all. But, as it turns out, desert (American in particular) makes for a rather picturesque house location. Standing alone for miles, under the blanket of the blue white sky, you can really feel free even inside your desert home. These desert houses are true architectural marvels as well as practical dwellings for modern residents. Scattered across the world, they seem to be most in demand in California.
Black House in Twentynine Palms, California
Also known as Yucca Valley House 3, this contemporary black structure is one of the most stylish desert homes we’ve seen. It deserves to be the first on our list.
Featuring mirrored windows that reflect desert landscapes, the fresh house takes advantage of the terrain to provide residents with privacy.
Four Eyes House in Coachella Valley, California
In contrast, Four Eyes House is a pure white building, which consists of a few separated blocks, broken only by the light blue of the window glass.
Its award-winning design was planned according with ‘spatiotemporal viewing experiences’ like sunrise, evenings characterized by city lights, mountain range, and night stars as opposed to domestic programming.
Desert Nomad House in Arizona
Desert Nomad home is a collection of three cube-like rusted steel and glass structures, each with its own bathroom and a view of a different side of a cacti desert.
There are also open kitchen/dining/living/ areas in the cubes along with offices and guest rooms.
Kaufmann House in Palm Springs, California
This one may look new and fresh off the construction, but in reality the house was built in 1947. Designed by an Austrian modernist Richard Neutra, the house served as a winter vacation home for Edgar J. Kaufmann Sr. and his family.
With its contemporary elements like half open spaces and numerous glass inclusions, the house looks ultra contemporary.
Capitol Reef National Park House, Torrey, Utah
Just outside of the U.S. Capitol Reef National Park sits a cozy modern house that is a home for a couple of intellectuals. They wanted the main residence with a guesthouse and studio outbuildings but also lots of nooks and gathering spaces.
The result is a contemporary twist on a pitched roof house with huge windows that open up to the preserved vegetation and natural desert site.
Alkhozama Desert House in Al-Riyadh Desert, Saudi Arabia
Ark Kassam Architects have designed this home for an oasis in Al-Riyadh Desert. Comprising three angular wings, the dwelling was planned with an entry lobby with the Arcade courtyard and an interior garden.
Serving as Service Mass, Living Mass, and Night Mass, these appropriately take advantage of the sun positioning. While the Living Mass opens up to the sunrise, the Night Mass is perfect for observing sunsets.
Rondolino Residence in Nevada
This is nottoscale’s prototype of a prefabricated building system, T-modulome, first developed in 2002. Built for an independent writer, the house lies on an isolated stretch near Scotty’s Junction in Nevada desert.
Completed in 2010, the stylish vacation home was provided with all the basic utilities like a leach field and electricity.
TresARCA House in Las Vegas
This Las Vegas house is a layered structure that has a lot of textures that progress from the basement up, much like the structure of the soil. A decorative mesh screen protects it from the scorching desert light. The inner courtyard enjoys a livelier grass in comparison with the front yard planted with waterless plants.
Echoing its desert location, the house features plenty of stone inside, especially in bathrooms and a wine room.
Desert House in Alice Springs, Northern Territory, Australia
The architects were aiming to “make the best of living in this place” of Alice Springs in Australia. It’s not exactly desert, but the immediate landscapes could convince you otherwise.
Taking advantage of the views, the house protects from heat and overexposure to the sun. But it also provides with private open outdoor lounge spaces for ultimate living.
Desert Wing in Scottsdale, Arizona
Desert Wing sounds kinda cool, but it also looks cool and stylish with its angular roof that bears distant resemblance to a wing.
Split into two structural wings, the house has a few water features, a firepit, and plenty of daylight from all of those glass walls that appear to be holding the thick roof all on their own.
Casa Todos Santos, Baja California Sur, Mexico
Mexico is a perfect place for building desert houses. Casa Todos Santos is a tranquil summer vacation home that opens to the warm climate and Pacific Ocean to both east and west.
Employing local labour and materials, the architects sought to achieve a natural beauty look that is also inherently modern.
Ellsworth Residence in Arroyo Desert, Cave Creek, Arizona
Michael P. Johnson is responsible for not one, but two of the modern desert houses on our list. One is this cool long pavilion-like Ellsworth residence built over a depression in a hill.
He calls it “one of the purest houses I’ve ever designed”. Sleek and minimal, the house opens every zone and room to the mountainous desert overgrown with cacti.
Bradley Residence in Scottsdale, Arizona
The Bradley Residence has a similar design only it stands on stilts rather than wall supports. Fronted by an infinity lap pool, the house has everything a modern dweller might require.
Just like Ellsworth, Bradley house has a front terrace with glass railings that allow to enjoy views without obstructing daylight for the interior.
STAAB Residence in Scottsdale, Arizona
If it wasn’t for its reflective windows, STAAB Residence could’ve been just another one of modern desert houses. Instead it catches the eye and attracts attention.
Overlooking the McDowell Mountains, the house also reflects the rocky chain in its mirrored exterior taking full advantage of the locale. Clever!
iT House near Joshua Tree National Park, California
This home is not like other desert houses. It stands close to the ground and almost all of its walls are made of glass. Not too energy-efficient for a hot locale, is it?
The house is a vacation home, though, and features roof-mounted solar panels that are probably enough to power it plenty. Also, you can rent it on Airbnb.
Levin Residence in Marana, Arizona
This modern house was built to lower the impact on the building site. So much so, it even appears to be levitating from certain angles.
Surrounded with natural landscapes and desert vegetation, the house provides refuge for local wildlife as well as cross-ventilation for more comfortable life in the desert.
Logan Residence in Scottsdale, Arizona
Logan Residence maybe called that, but it is first and foremost a private museum, and only then a winter residence.
Filled with art collections, the house is divided into galleries and various specialized spaces for exhibiting artworks.
Jarson Residence in Paradise Valley, Arizona
This part wood, part glass building is a really cool modern desert home that stands in the foothills of a mountain.
It comprises two levels, each of which has its own purpose. The public, living areas are all placed on the upper floor, while the lower level houses a media/music chamber and potter’s studio.
Desert House Outside Santa Fe, New Mexico
This is only one of Lake Flato Architects’ desert houses, but it’s sits in the green hills of New Mexico and not Arizona for a change.
Designed to house the owner’s extensive art collection, the house still looks down-to-earth with its rusted metal, concrete, and stucco design.
Desert Courtyard House in Scottsdale, Arizona
Standing again in the scorching desert of Arizona, you can see a Desert Courtyard House that has its own Zen garden embraced by the monolith walls providing it with privacy.
The courtyard isn’t in the name only. There is a beautiful inner yard that the house opens up to with help of tons of glass walls.
Doolittle Home in Mojave Desert, California
The Doolittle House tries to hide in the sandy rocks of Mojave desert, but it’s too unusual to disappear completely. On the inside, expect the house to be as unique and organic in everything from interior architecture to furnishings.
This, perhaps, the most unique of desert houses was originally built for an artist Bev Doolittle and her husband, but they ended up listing the property for $3 million.
Paso Robles Residence in Central Court, Tustin, California
Paso Robles is a cool contemporary residence that has it all – the views, the rusty metal siding, and plenty of daylight.
Clever planning hides the more private areas of the house, while the folding doors add an option of keeping some of them ajar or completely shut down.
Prefab in Desert Hot Springs, California
Using recycled steel framing, highly energy-efficient glass, and solar-assisted power, Marmol Radziner created one of the most contemporary desert houses in Desert Hot Springs.
Hovering on a recessed platform, the house offers views of the San Jacinto and San Gorgonio mountains as well as 2000 square feet (185.8 sq. m.) of interior space.
Studio Aiko wanted to marry the magic of desert with the modern villa design. Enlisting Weinstein Vaadia Architects for design help, the studio came up with a stylish visualization of a luxe but intimate dwelling made to take in daylight and views but also whose privacy is well-protected by the freestanding stone walls.
If desert houses seem like a totally bad idea to you, maybe it’s not that bad, if you think about it. You can harvest plenty of solar power in a desert. And if you have rainwater or collection water recycling system, you can save on water bills. Besides, prefabs can look fabulous these days, and you can take them from place to place or simply cut down on house construction.