Nestled unobtrusively between outcrops of ancient rocks in Joshua Tree National Park in California stands, at first glance, what appears to be a black sculptural form. In reality, it is a unique residence, a desert retreat, designed by the Los Angeles based practice of Oller + Pejic in response to the client’s brief for them to ‘build a house like a shadow’.
The challenging project was undertaken and came to fruition after a lengthy planning period due to an inherently problematic site, a flat area which had been excavated decades before but had remained unused. The final result is a structure, a mysterious black angled form which represents a negative of the neighbouring rocks, instantly becoming part of its immediate environment. The interior of the three bedroomed 1.550 sqf. residence smoothly follows a continuous flow around a central courtyard, overlooked by the private quarters. The open plan living area of the kitchen and dining space follows the movement of the exterior and descends down a series of wide steps into a sunken living room. Vast expanses of frameless glazing allows uninterrupted views of the magnificent wilderness of the Mojave desert from the black walled room, a timeless energy of its cave like interior embracing its occupants and allowing them to escape from the bustling city life and forget that civilization is just a short drive away.
The black surfaces of midnight quartz, high gloss anthracite and darkened steel continues on the exterior of the residence as protection against the scorching desert sun and cooler nights. A protected indoor/outdoor living space is completed by underground parking and a pool and deck on a lower level. This desert home is not the first to be designed by the husband and wife team of Oller + Pejic but it may be their most unique and impressive.