Last week we visited the High Sierras for a warm and cozy, and elegant, mountain cabin, but this week I wanted something new, something different: the High Desert; a black house, inside and out, in Yucca Valley, near Palm Springs.
The owners asked the architect to build a house like a shadow; they saw it as a perfect counterpoint to the desert where the sunlight is often so bright that the eye’s only resting place is the shadows.
A small flat pad had been created in the 1960′s when the area was first subdivided by flattening several rock outcroppings and filling in between the outcroppings. The owners hoped to reverse this “scar” though the cost was exorbitant, so the architect decided to use the scar to their advantage, making the house a replacement for the missing mountain, though not as a mountain, but rather as a shadow of where the mountain used to stand.
With the concept in place, the architects and owners worked on a way to move through the space; they wanted the experience of navigating the house to remind visitors of traversing the site outside. The rooms are arranged in a linear sequence from living room to bedrooms with the kitchen and dining in the middle, all wrapping around an inner courtyard entry, a protected exterior space in the harsh climate.
The owners wanted the living room to feel like a “chic sleeping bag” with the space recessed into a solid earthen wall to lean your back against as you survey the horizon. They also chose the very dark interior colors to add to the cave-like feeling. During the day, the interiors recede and the views are more pronounced, while at night the house completely dematerializes and the muted lighting and stars outside blend to form an infinite backdrop for contemplation.
It’s not everyone’s cup of tea, a black house in the desert, but it is stunning, it is different, it is gorgeous.