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Coco's House

This high desert house adjacent to Joshua Tree National Park is located in an environment that not only presented challenges and opportunities totally dissimilar to those of a house design for Vermont, but the vast scale of the treeless and abstract western environment is something that I have always loved. The house has an extremely simple floor plan and shape that quietly takes its place in its immense surroundings. Although small in footprint, the house opens up to encompass the surroundings and feels much larger than its floor plan would suggest.

The house is protected from prevailing southwest winds, which carry a lot of sand, by a semi-circular stucco wall. This wall, which forms a courtyard with the house, also affords visual privacy protecting it from the only public access road. The house is clad in sheets of steel, bolted to the exterior with an air space behind to prevent heat build up. The steel is rusting slowly and at different rates depending on exposure to weather.

Perhaps the most significant design feature is the red ray window high in the south wall, a band of red glass 12 inches high by 24 feet long. As the sun rises, moves across the sky and sets, it casts a moving band of red light up and down walls and counters and across the floor of the interior. It a way, it is a sundial with information carried in the projected light, since one could theoretically calculate the season and the time of day at any moment by the position of the ray of light in the house.