Navarre, Spain looks like the surface of the moon, and Barcelona architects Emiliano Lopez and Mónica Rivera’s Hotel Aire de Bardenas like a lunar colony. Named after the wind that rolls in over the Bardenas desert, the hotel is a cluster of eight pale boxes around a main hall. They sit a little eerily, like the relic from 2001: A Space Odyssey, in the middle of a wheat field between a national park and the town of Tudela.

Aire de Bardenas

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Wind and dust weren’t all Lopez and Rivera had to worry about. This was the hotel owners’ first building, and money and time were scarce. 'We tried to find evocative ways to assemble simple materials,' Rivera said, and so the cubes – each one holds one or two rooms, with ten others in the central building – are built from prefab panels, while reused produce boxes from local farms ring the complex as a windbreak.

But this isn’t just a glorified outpost. Lopez and Rivera designed the 22 rooms with clean lines and sleek, powder-coated steel to balance the rough world outside. The rooms center on what the architects call 'inhabitable windows:' big, glassed-in pop-outs where you can sit and contemplate the desert without getting sand in your espadrilles.