RSL Desert Home by Tennen Studio

Designed in 2017 by Tennen Studio, this 4,000 sq ft concrete residence is situated in Paradise Valley, Arizona.


This 4000 square foot home is built in a desert neighborhood set in a lush valley. A large desert wash which had previously been rerouted, was restored to run through the middle of the property. The main living spaces of the house are on a bridge spanning the restored wash, and the desert landscape weaves through and around the concrete, steel, and glass structures. Because of the restrictions with placing any structure below the flood elevation within the 30’ width of the wash, the use of bridging and cantilevers was critical to expand the use of the site, as well as to enhance the experience of the wash. The main outdoor living space is within a freestanding concrete pavilion, adjacent to the restored wash. A concrete screen wall cantilevers the wash, allowing the seasonal waters to flow. Opposite this pavilion, parallel cantilevers of a concrete roof and a concrete patio allow the guest suite to foot above the desert floor. Early in the project, prior to any structural work, we moved a very large ironwood tree on the site that was in the position of the new living room. The new location of the ironwood was determined to allow the tree and the concrete pavilion to weave together. In order to introduce natural light, while still preserving cover from rain in the seating areas, we laid out a series of conical penetrations in the concrete roof over the garden areas. The conical shape allows for more daylight than a straight walled opening, and the knife edge lightens the perceived weight of concrete when viewed from below.

Photography courtesy of Tennen Studio

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- by Matt Watts

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