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Photograph of Scorpion House, USA

24/10/2007 : SCORPION HOUSE, USA

2004 American Architecture Awards

The inspiration for Scorpion House lies within the Arizona desert environment in which it sits. Hillside contours, boulder fields, distant views, and stands of old saguaro, shape the forms. Interlocking the curved retaining walls, a protective shell of oxidised titanium plates integrates the 'Scorpion' forms with the desert landscape. The architects and client were committed to the ideals of sustainable building: exemplifying the principles of conservation and encouraging the application of those principles into daily lives, through minimizing resource degradation and consumption, fostering awareness in visitors, by modelling and teaching a new ethos and a non-hierarchal way of building. All elements were considered equally important - especially as they relate to harmonious integration within the ecosystem.

The ultimate fantasy home

Architect Neal Jones is clear on his philosophy that buildings exist in order to shelter mankind, but it is architecture that shelters the spirit of mankind. Scorpion House is a response to these principles, standing as a unique example of modern living with a twist.

The clients were clear on their desire to have home different to the norm, a move away from the traditional red tile and stucco examples typifying the area. Inspiration was drawn from an oft-seen creature in the deserts of Arizona - the Scorpion. The house is divided into two segments, the main living area forms the 'head' of the Scorpion whilst the tail consists of the guest living quarters and walkway. The whole build radiates around a central point where the pool is located.

The main materials are strong, durable and chosen to withstand the harsh conditions typical of the desert environment. Cast in place concrete and black titanium zinc siding form the exterior coverings. Solar grade glass plates provide a frontage through which the panorama of the desert is viewed. The main living area enjoys a mountain range, which can be seen on the horizon twelve miles away. The steel structured roof, curved concrete retaining walls, stainless steel fireplace and stone floor joints all align with the radial joint grid of the house. Concrete walls, natural plaster ceiling, stone floors and stainless steel fireplace change in hue along with the setting sun. The interior is custom designed and bespoke throughout; from the official Ferrari red paint on the cabinets to the stainless steel 'egg' bathroom.

This is a house that was designed to mould with the environment, causing as little obstruction as possible. The site appears to have instructed the design of the house, the inverted conical shape roof, whilst unifying the continuous interior, also defends against a western solar exposure and responds to the incline of the land. The curving walls have a multi purpose acting to reduce the surcharge of water and providing greater structural stability.

Where possible the ecological environment has been left undisturbed. This sharp and crisply designed house is to be enjoyed and explored at leisure.



A truely extrodinary feat of detailed design that can only be accomplished by the combination of an unbelievably committed owner, a talented and gifted architect, and a technically proficient and exceptionally patient builder. This is a home that harkens back to the tradition of the patron/architect/master builder relationship that is rarely seen anymore. I am personally familiar with one of those participants and I know how much effort and dedication to the final product it took to achieve this amazing structure.rnrnje
Added by Jim Evans on 22nd August 2010





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