Architect Michael P. Johnson loves a challenge; and building in a desert, as his latest project, the Ellsworth Residence demanded, certainly presented one.

Ellsworth residence

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The architect had to deal with the particularities of the unique desert geography, while choosing the right shape and style for the house, creating a light-looking long rectangular volume, sitting delicately on the ground’s natural curves.

'My primary concern for the design was to minimize the impact to the pristine desert site' explains Johnson, 'by bridging the desert arroyo, we minimized scarring of the desert floor'.

Completed last November, Ellsworth Residence belongs to a keen art collector, so a second big concern of the architect was to create, 'not only a residence, but also gallery to display the clients many pieces of fine art and furnishings'. The interior layout features an expansive living and dining area, with enough space to house works like an specially commissioned installation by Arizona artist Mayme Kratz, but also offers wide views to the desert surrounding the house.

The house also includes two master bedrooms with en-suite bathrooms, storage space, kitchen area adjacent to the living spaces and an almost independent guest room, separated by the rest of the house by the carport. An Italian porcelain tile skin covers the interior floor surface, while quality steel and glass are the building’s main materials.

'Designing in the desert, particularly in this location is different because there were no privacy issues to deal with i.e. neighbours and such, so we were able to enclose the residence completely with glass' adds Johnson, who took advantage of the situation designing the north and south facades as sliding glass panels. The east and west ones were kept solid, protecting this way the interior spaces of the strong east and west sunlight.

Incorporating carefully planned orientation and openings, an airy interior, and respect towards the fragility of the surrounding ecosystems, Johnson designed the geometric volume of the Ellsworth Residence, as an elegant addition to the stunning desert landscape.