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Passively Cooled House With Outdoor Living Spaces

Situated in the California desert on a back road with very little traffic, this house by Aidlin Darling Design is meant to connect to the surrounding nature as much as possible. Constructed from materials with natural colors and designed to blend with the landscape instead of dominating it, the dwelling captures the barren beauty of the surrounding scrub without being barren itself. The house is unique in that it does not have any air conditioning, relying solely on architectural cues to cool it by day. The westward side of the building allows the most light in, providing passive heat at night, while the eastward portion is mostly closed to the sun’s hot rays in the morning. Most living is still done outside, however, with a fully outdoor set of living spaces and a large pool area. Different varieties of wood dominate furniture and storage all over the home, while stone makes up a large portion of finishes and painted metal rounds out the rest.

With barely any natural sources of shade in the surrounding area, the architecture of the house is tailored specifically to take advantage of the sun without ever overheating its interior. The house also retains a low, long profile, in harmony with the landscape when seen from afar.
To ensure that the dwelling compliments the dry natural scrub around it, its walls are composed of only two different tones, a sandy beige stone and rusted steel finish. At the edges most exposed to natural light throughout the day, windows are kept small to keep the interior cool.
As the building ages, the patina of its longest wall will continue to deepen as the elements wear it down, allowing the climate to literally change how the home looks over time.
The home’s design forgoes a traditional paved driveway and garage in favor of a pebbled carport, providing a distinct parking area without creating an artificial and removed section of the exterior. The two thinnest edges of the house are dominated by light stone instead of metal, giving the residence distinct personalities from different angles.
This most public edge of the house is its most closed off, serving a dual purpose: the nearly windowless walls of this side preserve privacy and block direct morning sunlight at the same time.
At opposite corners of the dwelling, two bedrooms feature ceiling height glass panel sections, giving impressive views of the surrounding desert scrub. At both ends, too, a wall of stone or metal separates the bedroom section from more public portions of the residence on the outside, allowing windows to remain unblocked at any time of day.
On the other side of the rear bedroom’s privacy wall is a spacious outdoor recreation area dominated by a pool, accessed through the house’s public rooms. At one corner of the pool deck is a small hot tub, defined by its raised square frame.
The pool’s privacy wall protects from the gazes of those going down the road in cars, but is still short enough to allow occupants of the home to stand up and see the stunning views for miles around.
Since the house is located within a desert climate, its principal gathering space can be located outside. This dining and living area is open to the elements, but has a smooth floor, indoor lighting, and a warm fireplace.
The furniture in this indoor/outdoor space is minimal, with the dining table and matching benches making up the only freestanding pieces. A built-in wooden bench in the far corner of the room provides additional space with compelling views.
Inside the walls of the dwelling, an additional combination living and dining space provides an alternate public area for inclement weather days and cold desert nighttimes. The walls inside are mostly made of the stone brick seen on the edges of the exterior.
With a roof overhang outside, the dining room wall can utilize much greater window space than the rust-colored edge opposite it. Despite the fact that the home has no air conditioning, it stays perfectly livable throughout the day because of a combination of orientation and intelligent design choices.
Around midday, a shaft of light shines through above the living area couch, and the light of the moon does the same by night. The couch itself is a bright green color, distinct from the dark wood of the dining table.
Passageways inside are framed by built-in shelves and desks along the exterior wall, and by the placement of furniture on the interior edge. Between each public room, a thin opening in the stone wall stretches from floor to ceiling.
Beyond the living room, a built-in study area features a thin window placed specifically to give a great sitting view. This window also opens to allow fresh air in, rotating vertically outward from the house.
The bathroom is framed by the same variety of wood seen on the shelving of the living space, a lighter hue than is used on flooring and furnishings.
Aidlin Darling Design


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