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Photograph of Pond House, USA
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24/10/2007 : POND HOUSE, USA

This weekend retreat builds itself into the landscape adjacent to a natural, year-round, swimming hole. Stepping down into the residence from the Arizona desert environment, the living areas of the home are at the level of the cool, tree-filled oasis. Tucked under an asymmetrical gabled roof, a long curving stonewall anchors the residence to its site. Ideal for weekend entertaining and relaxing, the spaces of the home open onto a deck directly overlooking the wash. This relationship of house to site accommodates the clients desire for a place of sanctuary and contemplation.

The ultimate place of contemplation

Architect Will Bruder has been described as something of a monument in the architectural scene of Phoenix in which he has been an active member for almost 40 years. His roots are firmly embedded in the desert landscape and in this Arizona retreat Bruder expresses a dedication to the rough beauty of the desert landscape.

Leaving the ranching and horse riding activities of neighboring properties behind, the house is approached on an unpaved dirt road. Along the arrival drive an arcing naturally weathered steel plate form emerges from the earth, extending to embrace the parking and service structure across the site. The steel arc is pierced once, revealing a path and simple concrete fountain with an overflowing edge as its focal point. The water quietly flows down a natural flagstone stair into a metaphorical canyon formed by the wall of steel and the curving sloped stone wall of the house. The tension between the opposing curved arcs forms a funnel into the home's entry foyer. The sloped coursing of the home's stone wall elicits a sense of mythical ruins of past cultures.

Entering the house through the sculptural raw steel door with a luminous red resin light slot opens a compressed room sunken in the desert to shoulder height. A framing of stone, textured concrete, steel and re-sawn plywood, with spectacular micro and macro views of the undisturbed Spur Cross Canyon desert to the north.

In contrast to this intimate space, the volume of the architecture draws the house's interior circulation path between curving forms of native stone and red venetian plaster, left to a guest/home office suite, or right, down five steps to the great indoor/outdoor living/dining/kitchen space. Following the dynamic of the sloping re-sawn plywood ceiling above, one is drawn into the space by the glow of natural light through the room's fully glazed east elevation. Carefully crafted to comfort, the materials, textures, and volume give this space its warmth and scale. Large sliding glass doors, a see-through hearth, and spacious cantilevered concrete living deck help dissolve the line between inside and out. Beyond the living zone, through compression of space and stone, the master suite expands to the local and extended landscape through generous glass and operable vent panels.

Viewed from the pond below, the house appears to simultaneously grow from and float above the unique geology of its setting. The cantilevered concrete deck, with its illuminated silver metallic coating, floats over the boulders lining the pond. The articulated custom window wall of raw steel plate and weathered steel cladding dances beneath the broad, thin eve of re-sawn plywood.

Interiors, fabrics and art are seamlessly integrated with the architecture and the site. Selectively placed windows of glass and colored translucent resin frame unexpected vistas and perspectives. It is architectural equivalent to living in a camera with the multiple apertures and lenses, allowing the world to be seen from many different points of view.






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