Off-the-Grid: Desert Design Destinations


Most look to Palm Springs when it comes to stylish and modern desert design and architecture, but the Mojave offers plenty of off-the-radar gems that are definitely worth exploring. We’ve ventured outside of the Uptown Design District to uncover some of Yucca Valley and Desert Hot Springs’ unique spaces.

1. Acido Dorado

Robert Stone’s 1,400-square-foot dwelling is positioned in a 180-degree alcove of small mountain rocks. The main living space features glass walls on three sizes, kitchen and seating area. Two matching master suites with glass walls boast private atriums planted with ocotillos. A mosaic tiled reflecting pool and spa overlap into the living space behind ornate wrought iron gates.

2. Tim Palen Studio at Shadow Mountain

Photo by Jack Parsons Photography[/caption]

This prototype hybrid house built by ecotechdesign is the first repurposed container home permitted and built in the Mojave Desert. Consisting of five shipping containers on a steel frame, the residence is made from recycled materials, solar daylight tubes, radiant heating and cooling, and boasts a living roof with native plants and greywater irrigation.

3. Hotel Lautner

Made up of four uniquely designed interlocking units, the John Lautner-designed Desert Hot Springs boutique property was originally resurrected in 1947. After a facelift by L.A. interior designer Tracy Beckmann and furniture maker Ryan Trowbridge, the property opened to the public last year. Since, the Hotel Lautner has been presented with Palm Springs Modern Committee’s 2011 commercial renovation award.

67710 San Antonio Street, Desert Hot Springs | 760.832.LAUT (5288)

4. Rock Reach House

Built using the Blue Sky Frame and Blue Sky Wall from Blue Sky Building Systems, the steel home is the first of its kind. Designed by o2 Architecture, the two-bedroom, one-bathroom “green” residence seemingly floats over its desert terrain. Eco-friendly features include both solar photovoltaic and solar thermal panels, a greywater system, bamboo and Forest Stewardship council certified cabinetry, and a seasonal stream that flows uninterrupted under the house.

5. Mojave Sands

This fully renovated five-room desert hideaway was originally built in 1952. Complete with its native landscaping, new handmade doors, windows, gates and furniture were all designed and built on site. In addition to the two suites and three single rooms, a music and film production studio nearby has its own private house, hot tub and fireplaces. Soon-to-be implemented: 100 percent solar power capability and on-site diner.

62121 29 Palms Highway, Joshua Tree, Calif. | 760.799.1603

6. Hope Springs Resort

This unique architectural property with high entry walls features 10 guest rooms set back around the perimeter of the site. The midcentury motel’s accommodations wrap the courtyard and three separate pools with high, medium and low temperature natural hot springs. Originally built in 1962, Hope Springs has been fully renovated – interiors feature polished concrete floors, platform beds and modern details.

68075 Club Circle Drive, Desert Hot Springs | 760.329.4003

7. itHouse

An off-grid sustainable dwelling developed by Taalman Kock, the itHouse is a design system that utilizes a series of components prefabricated off-site to control construction waste, quality and labor. The small, glass-walled residence boasts an open floor plan and utilized photovoltaic and solar thermal panels for electricity and heat.

8. Bonita Domes Project

Oddly shaped units dotting the desert landscape of Joshua Tree, the Bonita Domes Project is the first building concept using SuperAdobe Earth Bag building technology as taught by Cal Earth. Minimal resources and materials are used in the building process. The building staff and crew includes experienced architects, natural earth suppliers, Earthbag builders and alumni of Cal-Earth’s internship program. Smaller structures like the Earth Dome and Sleep Pods have been completed. The Triple Dome, the project’s main house, is currently under construction and will be built by code.

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