natural house

Desert architecture / Scottsdale, Arizona / natural architect’s house /Scottsdale house /


Keywords: desert architecture, natural architecture, natural architect’s house, Ken Meffan architect


This house tempers the desertclimate, featured in Sunset Magazine, is a passive solar natural house designed to let the low in the sky winter sun penetrate deeply into the house and the summer sun to be kept to an absolute minimum. Retractable sunscreen awnings can be drawn down in the winter time to encourage solar effects.


Upon entering the house coming from the harsh desert, you first pass through largewooden door portal taking you into an intermediate zone that tempers the harshness of the desert and keeps out some of the unsavory guests as rattlesnakes. Next to thewooden doors is a water element that over flows into a small stream thatbe leads you to the front door then flows under the house to a stream on the other side into a patio pond beyond.


The entry door is a wide pivot door scribed around a large rock boulder. On the south facing glazing/solar wall the custom sliding glass barn doors open to the patio to encourage strong relationship to outside living.


The stairway and the built-in couch are entrical elements of each other, the stairs led across the back of the couch to a bridge library viewing down to the living space below and leading to the master bedroom under an 18’ long retractable roof/skylight. An element in the master bedroom is a large openableroof/skylight the architect/builder/owner had created using a garage door opener as a mechanism.



architectbuilder: Ken Meffan



desert house in Scottsdale


  Sunset Magazine

Western Home Awards





Sunset Magazine


It tempers the desert climate. And it’s fun


By far the most organic of the award winners, this house drew mixed reviews for its pueblo-style architecture, but few could deny the style is honestly expressed and “fun.”


As juror Jones put it, “It’s a good example of styled architecture being elevated beyond the cliché.”


“The house doesn’t take itself too seriously,” added Morrall. “Its roughneck execution gives it charm, while the tall volumes and the way it opens to the garden add spatial excitement.”


The house also goes a long way to temper the desert climate. Thick walls have stucco and foam over concrete block; a misting system runs in the afternoons; retractable skylights vent hot air; heavy masses of stone are used in the floor and fireplace. A fountain splashes near the entry, becomes a small stream and trickles toward the front door, disappears, then reappears at the other side of the house. All combine to lower the temperature.


Deep overhangs and shade-cloth awnings strung between the roof and a meandering wing wall also contribute to the oasis-like atmosphere.


The house feels larger that it’s 2,200 feet, thanks to wooden window walls on both levels that slide open to the garden, the scale of the timbers, and the two-story living room volume accentuated by a tall, stacked stone fireplace and sunken conversation pit.










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