Architectural Inspo: Casa Caldera, AZ

DUST architects use lava-crete and natural airflow to create a home at one with its surroundings

A quick search of #cabinporn on really any social platform will deliver an unending feed of A-frames nestled deep in doug fir forests and quaint lakeside cottages. But where’s the love for beautifully-designed desert homes? For stucco and ponderosa pine, lava rock and scorched earth? In an attempt to tip the scales ever so slightly we want to introduce one of our favorite bits of desert architecture—Casa Caldera from Arizona-based firm D U S T.

Located some two hours south of Tucson near the US-Mexico boarder, Casa Caldera resides in an area formed by volcanic activity during the Jurassic-Triassic periods over 170 million years ago and consists of two separate structures connected by an open air courtyard. One side contains living space and a kitchen, while the opposite houses two bedrooms and a bathroom. The layout is simple and efficient, much like the material used to build the elegant modern structure—the home’s 18” thick walls are poured lava-crete, made from pulverized lightweight red lava rock, cement, and water.

Situated at 5000’ elevation, the site sees its share of extreme weather, from freezing nights to mercury-boiling daytime temps. Even still, the clever design uses natural air circulation encouraged by well-considered window and door placement to cool the interior. A wood-burning furnace and fireplace provide warmth when needed. The massive walls certainly help in the process as well.

So, are you in love with the desert yet? How about now?

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