Broken Arrow Workshop‘s Taliesin (Frank Lloyd Wright School of Architecture) student(s) put together this exquisitely simple Miner’s Shelter in the middle of the Arizona desert. The tiny sculpturesque space is a perfectly beautiful combination of materials and unique space.
Located in Taliesin West, this space features concrete and rusted steel to pay homage to the mining days, and even redwood was used in conjunction with the raw and industrial materials to warm everything up. And everywhere you look in and out of this tiny sleeping quarters is a “L” motif. From the operable window to the bed’s positioning and ‘headboard‘ of sorts.
Arizona desertThe Miner’s Shelter is a desert dwelling located at Taliesin West in Scottsdale Arizona. The shelter was designed and built by Taliesin student Dave Frazee.
The concept and title comes from the architectural ruins that were found at the project’s site. The shelter’s design geometry is inspired by the existing concrete pad and chimney mass.
The shelter is held at two feet above the desert surface by two steel posts and one of the original concrete walls. It is coddled by a nearby Palo Verde tree.
The shelter is covered with steel panels that are attached to metal channels, which hold the panels three inches off of the wall. The air space allows for hot air vent away from the structure improving the insulation quality for the interior space. Where the material changes planes on the exterior, the structure is clad with ebony stained redwood. The steel and wood were selected for their aging qualities and durability in the desert. The rusted steel used to pay homage to the deserts rich mining history. Over time the panels acquiring a patina similar to that of the desert mountain range. The redwood was also chosen for its aging quality, and its precedent as a building material for the original Taliesin West desert camp.
The entrance to the shelter is located on the inner courtyard of the concrete pad closest to the chimney mass. This allows for a student to open up the shelter and gain warmth on a cool night from the nearby fire.
The interior wall finish material is a combination of plaster and birch plywood. The cold color of the plaster creates a cave like experience, and the intersections of the birch plywood built-in, provide a place to set a book or a few candles for nighttime visibility. From inside the shelter, the views towards the entrance frame the McDowell mountain range (that span from the northeast towards the south). The window closest to the chimney frames the Phoenix Valley.
The shelter’s operable windows allow a current resident on the warmest nights to receive a gentle breeze from the desert wash, from the toe of the bed, to the head. On colder nights, the windows can be shut to retain heat.
Last but not least, along the pad near the chimney mass of the shelter, is a small landscaping addition. Existing “L” shaped blocks (Originally used for a low wall on the site) were used to level out the ground of the existing concrete pad. The “L” shape was used as a design inspiration and reference throughout the project. The shape appears at every scale of design throughout the project. In plan, you can see it by the shelters placement onto the existing site, In elevation you see where the shelter overhangs and interacts with the Palo Verde tree, and in detail throughout the interior where the plaster and birch plywood interact.