Desert Dwellings

Our blue Planet Earth is a world with surfaces primarily consisting of vast bodies of water. Believe it or not, the landmass only makes up of 29% of our planet! One third of Earth’s total landmass constitutes of deserts of all varieties. The term desert is defined as any land area that has an annual deficit of water, which could range from arid canyons to frigid polar planes.

Integrating modern homes into extreme climates has become more than a necessity to natives of such zones; it is an architectural and artistic niche fueling the passion for millions. Desert design is innovative endeavor of insulating each space to create a temperature neutral interior climate, melding materials with the geographic landscape, and maximizing use of solar energy by taking advantage of natural resources, and fuzing elements of modern technology.

Each of these unique designs presents contemporary designs with state of the art technology, creating a new world of modern living in extreme climates.


The Desert Villa by Studio Aiko

This design has mastered merging the magical scenery of the desert with modern design and architecture. Don’t be fooled, this marvelous beauty doesn’t quite exist yet, this is just an artistic rendering!










Photographs courtesy of Studio Aiko


Alavi House by BMDesign Studios, Iran

Alavi House is situated at the foothills of the Zagros Mountain range at the edge of a desert. The 194-square-meter solar roof features 104 solar modules capable of meeting a minimum of 29,000 kWh a year, far exceeding the average electricity consumption of an Iranian household. Tesla is revolutionizing the way we power and build our homes – and architects are taking note. Due to the arid climate, the architects used the prevailing winds from the south and southwest to inform the roof’s sloped shape and direction.


“With a roof tilted toward East, we can create effective zones of negative pressure at the climax of the roof helping to ventilate the building naturally through most of the year,” wrote the architects. “Controllable vents, at the climax of the roof have a sucking effect, together with the large openings to the south of the building. Air filters by flowing through a broken line of evergreen trees (Cedrus deodara) and over a pool in the outdoors and then by passing over an indoor garden of Snake Plants (Sansevieria trifasciata) which is known to be a great air purifier (NASA Clean Air Study) and over a pond.”









The home is finished in concrete save for the double skin on the sloped roof that would be clad in the nearly imperceptible Tesla solar cells installed 30 centimeters above the roof. The operable double skin roof can rotate open to allow the sun to heat the concrete roof and warm the interior.Alavi-House-by-BMDesign-Studios-12-889x592

Alavi-House-by-BMDesign-Studios-8-889x592Alternatively on colder days, the roof rotates close to provide shade from the sun, while simultaneously optimizing conditions for generating solar energy.Alavi-House-by-BMDesign-Studios-9-889x592

Photographs courtesy of Inhabitat



Steven Holl’s Planar House, Paradise Valley, Arizona

Using raw Concrete and Corten Steel to create a great prefabricated home and art gallery. Planar House, named for its geometric planes features strategic skylights and windows add to the dramatic angles. The rooftop boasts a spectacular view of the desert and Camelback mountain – and has its own sculpture garden.

















Photographs courtesy of Trendir



Black Desert Mansion in Yucca Valley, California

This unusual home is designed by Oller & Pejic Architecture of Los Angeles, partnered with Marc Atlan of Yucca Valley, California. Its dark mystique features geometric intricacies which give it an intriguing allure.




Photographs courtesy of Home Design Lover


The Desert Molluscan, Iran

Tasked by the Biomimicry Institute’s Student Design Challenge with finding solutions to every day challenges by looking to nature, a team of students, Elnaz Amiri, Hesam Andalib, Roza Atarod, and M-amin Mohamad from the Art University of Isfahan in Iran decided to design a house that is self-cooling – just like a snail.

Hesam Andalib told Fastco. Design that the snail has remarkable qualities that has allowed it to stay both cool and moist in even the harshest temperatures. He and the rest of the design team found its form, the material of its shell, and its coping strategies to be qualities worth emulating in architecture.

Remarkably, they found that this unique design works like a charm,  and the home is delightfully comfortable without air conditioning in even the most formidable heat.





Photographs courtesy of Green Prophet



BMDesign Studios’s Inverted Rain Collection Roof Homes, Iran

This ingeniously resourceful desert technology features a concave roof system to collect rainwater, help cool the buildings, create filtered drinking water, and integrate water into interior graywater systems. The bowl-shaped roof design addresses rapid evaporation, used to channel even the smallest amounts of accumulated rain, coalescing them into drops big enough to harvest before they evaporate.




The concave roof systems also provide optimal shade for the structures below, creating an additional cooling system.



Photographs courtesy of Web Urbanist



Jerry Weintraubs Palm Desert Getaway, California

Situated in the dramatic landscapes of the Palm Desert, this stunning modern home captures the warm gradients of the terrain, while integrating cooling oasis-like plant life and pools to surround the property.

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Photographs courtesy of Variety

The Helal New Moon Residence, The United Arab Emirates

Islamic culture is embodied and has been reinterpreted through modern technology and design in this 35,000-square-foot residence in the United Arab Emirates. Searing temperatures and ample desalinated water allowed the desert site to be transformed into an oasis with pools and landscaping.

The canopy forms a crescent moon – symbolic of new life – reminiscent of a Bedouin tent, sheathed in shimmering aluminum, adorned in moucharabieh traditional lattice, and lined in fountains, pools, and date palm grove aisles.

“Like Dubai itself, the house is adapting traditions while working toward the future.”

-Steven Ehrlich, Founding Partner










Photographs courtesy of EYRC




Check out some more desert masterpieces with a Mid-Century Modern Palm Springs vibe!

Where are your favorite desert designs for modern homes around the world? Link us to some architectural dreams!


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