Imbedded in a dramatic rock outcrop overlooking a natural, year-round, swimming hole, the Pond House is a bridge to two unique and disparate ecosystems: the Sonoran Desert and its local riparian microcosm. As a modestly scaled 165 square meter weekend retreat, the Pond House also bridges the metropolitan intensity of Phoenix, thirty miles south, with an idyllic oasis of desert calm and contemplation.
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 stonewall 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 stonewall 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 frame 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.
Project Team: Will Bruder (design), Rob Gaspard (project architect), Greg Packham, Dominique Price
Structural Engineer: Rudow & Berry, Inc, Mark Rudow
Mechanical Engineer: Otterbein Engineering, Roy Otterbein
Landscape Architect: Jim Coffman
Art Program: Louise Roman, art consultant; featured artists—Roger Asay, Kim Cridler, John Garrett, Bernd Haussman, Sara Hubbs, Jim Johnston, Mark Klett, Mayme Kratz, Michael Maglich, Deborah Masuoka, Manfred Muller, Marie Navarre, Al Stirt, Seiko Tachibana, Ted Troxel, Judy Tuwaletstiwa, Denise Yaghmourian
Contractor: 180 Degrees, James Trahan, Peter Noble, Burt Little, Carl Sepura, Jason Madison, John Anderson, Kathy Hunter, Jill Wagner