A young couple planning a new home in an off-grid community in the mountains outside of Las Vegas came to us to design a house that responded to its dramatic and challenging site in an sensitive, responsible way.

Our approach was to divide the functions of the house into pavilions-arranged around a central court-that are earth sheltered to the south and west, and whose form recalls the vernacular shapes of ranch and mining buildings from Nevada’s past. The great room opens to National Forest land to the north with a set of large, custom-fabricated tilt-up doors.

The house’s systems are powered by a roof-integrated 25KW photovoltaic array with battery storage. Daytime heat, captured by a hydronic system embedded in the massive walls and floor, is stored in an underground rock-bed heat-sink to be reintroduced at night as necessary. A combination of evaporative and radiant panel cooling is suited to the desert climate and makes optimal use of daily temperature swings. The project was cancelled at the end of schematic design.