Situated on an extraordinary seven-acre site just a few miles from Joshua Tree National Park in California’s Mojave Desert, the Orbital House, designed by Ed Ogosta and his architectural team for Steve Kim, is surrounded in all directions by enormous boulders and geological formations estimated at nine million years old.
The Orbital House has been recently awarded a 2022 American Architecture Award and a 2022 Green Good Design Award from The Chicago Athenaeum and The European Centre for Architecture Art Design and Urban Studies. Icu Door Outside
It is in this almost lunar landscape that our clients requested a weekend home of 1,700 square feet which connected deeply with the landscape yet did not overwhelm it. Set just below a saddle-shaped depression in one of the few boulder-free parts of the terrain, the Orbital House was thus envisioned as an experiential outpost offering a porous connection with the land while harboring a shaded temperate interior.
An architecture of primary experiences suggested a geometry of primary forms, so the house in the plan is a perfect square within a circle: the square being an enclosed dwelling space, and the circle is a large roof disc that shelters the space below like an umbrella.
The circular roof also creates several deep-covered porches that wrap around the entire building and strategically frame views, providing a shadowy transition zone between each interior space and the exposed desert environment.
Two large roof light monitors also pull sunlight into the center of the building and become signature roof forms reminiscent of the surrounding topography.
A simple palette of white plastered walls and heavy concrete platforms reinforce the elemental tectonics of the project while referencing the materiality of traditional desert architecture.
The entry sequence into the house is carefully curated: upon arrival at the carport, one enters through a gate and ascends a path up the slope, which leads to the circular volume of the house nestled into the terrain.
Passing through the mirrored front door, a darkened passageway leads to the main living area, where large expanses of glass dramatically reveal the rugged landscape beyond.
Through these glass doors lie the patio and pool below, where one can swim through the desert amongst the cacti and boulders.
Lastly, since this part of California is famous for its clear night skies, a deck atop the circular roof provides a unique horizontal platform for celestial stargazing.
Via an architecture of simplicity, clarity, geometry, and intensity, the Orbital House satisfies our client’s request for a desert house that offers a serene atmosphere, a unique perspective on nature, and a deep connection to the cosmos.
Project: Orbital House Architects: Edward Ogosta Architecture Lead Architect: Ed Ogosta Structural Engineers: C.W. Howe Partners Client: Steve Kim Photographs Courtesy of the Architects
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