Building Research

Design: Fall 2003

Construction: Winter 2004 with Derek McLeod

Funding: Howarth-Wright Graduate Fellowship

Sponsorship: Modular Gabion Systems, Binswanger Glass

In the Fall/Winter of 2003/04 I traveled to Taliesin

in Scottsdale, AZ, on the Howarth-Wright Graduate

Fellowship. Taliesin is the home of the Frank Lloyd Wright archives, as well as the Frank Lloyd Wright School

of Architecture. Part of the education at Taliesin allows

students to design and build their own desert shelter to live in. Since the University of Toronto sends a student annually on this fellowship award, I decided to take the opportunity and build the home for future visiting Toronto architecture students.

I intended to provide space conducive to researching and reflective thinking in the desert environment. To achieve this, I designed space around time and temperature, and location. The main interior space is surrounded by gabion walls that contextually reference the desert masonry at Taliesin. These porous masses allow air to filtrate through them while shielding heat. A deck cantilevers over the wash and terminates inside, providing seating in front of the fireplace.

An elevated steel box penetrates the gabion wall to provide an elevated sleeping room. The Birch ply interior adds material warmth and it’s western orientation allows the evening sun to radiate inside for the cold nights. Two large windows open at one end and present a view of the city of Scottsdale below.

Desert Dwelling