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Home Tour: A Sonoran Desert Dwelling

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Old meets new in this desert modern home in the foothills north of Tucson, Arizona

Photography by William Lesch

desert modern

When homeowners Bill and Linda Damon set out to build a home in The Residences at Dove Mountain, they envisioned a modern structure that both respected and merged with the desert. Linda knew she wanted to build a home that paid homage to its surroundings; together with architect Kevin Howard, they utilized mud adobe, an ancient material, to construct a modern house with organic materials in the foothills north of Tucson, Arizona.

“There’s something very vibrant about taking an ancient material and blending it with modern design,” Howard says.

The edges and boundaries of the house are intentionally softened with seamless interior glass corners that, while blurring the public and private spacers, also reveal elements of the desert.

Blending indoors and out is essential to desert modern architecture, but introducing expanses of glass in the desert can be tricky — too much and the inside of the home can be hard to cool. To counter this, Howard used overhangs to offer shade and a softening design contrast.

“These roof planes are a direct contrast to the adobe walls, a modern balancing act of heavy walls and light planes,” he says.

While many people think of cold, harsh spaces when they hear the word modern, Howard says this home is anything but.

“This home is decidedly modern but at the same time draws on organic influences. Design-wise, it’s a mix of the two ideologies — modernism of the early 20th century and Frank Lloyd Wright’s organic architecture,” he says. “It’s transcendent as opposed to trendy.”

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