Most architecture students don’t have to build their graduate project first in order to be able to live and study. However, at Taliesen West, Frank Lloyd Wright’s winter office and now an architectural school, students have to sleep outside in the desert in either a tent or in a shelter of their own design. Student David Frazee fashioned his desert shelter after an old miner’s shack — with a few more amenities.
David based his tiny shelter from some architectural ruins found on the school’s site. The concrete pad it sits on and the old chimney were used as a base for the tiny house. The shelter is held at two feet above the desert surface by two steel posts and one of the original concrete walls. The shelter is covered with rusted steel panels that are attached to metal channels , which hold the panels three inches off of the wall. The air space allows for hot air to vent away from the structure. The home is also paneled with redwood sheets and shaded by a tall Palo Verde tree. The steel and wood were selected for their aging qualities and durability in the desert sun.
The interior walls are a combination of plaster and birch plywood. The shelter’s operable windows allow gentle, desert breezes to flow over the bed. This student shelter does not contain a bathroom, shower or kitchen. Some existing blocks found on the site were used to level out the ground of the existing concrete pad, creating a wonderful sitting area for some nighttime viewing of the stars, the outdoor fireplace and probably more than a few textbooks.
David Frazee currently works with the Broken Arrow Workshop. A collective of Taliesin graduates who are dedicated to continue the legacy of Taliesin, by living through design.
Photos by Archinect