Scorpion House, Jones Studio, Inc.
Scorpion House: Jones Studio, Inc. Completed: January 2002
Mies Van der Rohe once said: “I see no reason to invent a new architecture every Monday morning,”The great Midwestern architect, Bruce Goff, responded: “I have to invent a new architecture each time for each client, whether its Monday morning or not!”
The site is in far North Scottsdale, Arizona, within a gated community designed around a golf course. The neighborhood strongly discourages modern architecture. Most of the houses in the community are faux-mission, faux-tuscan, or faux-contemporary, placed on top of pristine, beautiful Sonoran desert. Previously untouched, the site is in high
Sonoran desert with a significant slope, arroyo, boulders, and desert landscape. Careful consideration for views, heat gain mitigation, and maintaining privacy determined a radial house plan that would focus on the Natural Landscape.
The team was committed to the ideals of sustainable building: exemplifying the principles of conservation and encouraging the application of those principles in our daily lives; minimizing resource degradation and consumption; fostering awareness in visitors, designers, and developers by modeling and teaching a new ethos; and a non-hierarchal way of building where all elements are considered equally important – especially as they relate to harmonious integration within the ecosystem.
Although the entry sequence straddles a small, yet significant canyon, the resulting upper landing bridge allows the existing drainage pattern to continue undisturbed. The beautiful arroyo view is only revealed after stair ascension and passage through the creature’s concrete backbone. Hillside contours, boulder field, distant views, and stands of old saguaro, shape the cast-in-place concrete ledge. Interlocking the curvilinear retaining walls, a protective shell of oxidized titanium plates integrate the “scorpion”
forms with desert shadow. An inverted conical shape roof unifies the continuous interior, defends against a western solar exposure and responds to the incline of the land. Multiple center points are subordinate to the radial joint grid generated by the hemispherical pool. Program elements are directed to, across, and beyond the seemingly suspended disk of blue water leaking through a coping sieve of two hundred and fifty four stainless steel nipples that leads water to a collection basin below.The insect’s harmless stinger tail places the detached two bedroom house in the shade of a crescent shaped clearing.
properties are such that the metal releases heat quickly. This is critical in building responsibly in a desert environment where differences between daytime and nighttime temperatures can be used to the owners benefit by reducing cooling loads. This rich, velvety material was perfect for enveloping the complex shapes of the house in a skin tough enough to protect the interior from the blistering heat of the desert. The dark metal panels will gracefully endure for many years to come, require no maintenance, improve with age as they patina, and help the house to gracefully blend into the desert shadows.
Engineering: J.T. Engineering (Structural), Otterbein Engineering (MPE), Tony Woo (Electrical), Graham Engineering (Civil) Contractor: Construction Zone