In the Californian desert, in Joshua Tree, rises a 4,643 square metre house that looks like an armadillo in its natural habitat. High Desert House was designed in the 80's by architect Kendrick Bangs Kellogg. An amazing example of organic architecture.
American architect Kendrick Bangs Kellogg is known for his groundbreaking, organic architecture that is also described as so lively that it seems to breathe. His buildings are studies of layered, segmented and unfoldable spaces. In 1984, as the story goes, Kellogg received a letter from the artists Jay and Bev Doolittle stating that they had bought a very interesting, but rather unconventional building site in Joshua Tree, California, and wondered whether he could develop a design for it. Kellogg was intrigued by the demand and after a visit to the couple and their 10 hectare building site that was buried under the rocks, he took on the project. He was given carte blanche, which led to one of the most striking organic homes ever. High Desert House is designed in such a way that it seems to camouflage itself between the highly stacked rocks in the desert. It took 20 years before it was completely finished. The structure has no walls, but 26 cast iron vertebrae that rise like columns and fan out at the top to form a roof. You can't call it a ceiling. The concrete columns come together like two hands that almost intertwine. Between the 'almost' and the 'intertwining' there are wide, sandblasted glass panels that provide the space with sunlight during the day and an unimaginable view over the stars at night. Each column is embedded at least seven metres into the ground to guarantee stability. Inside, the spaces are separated by large, curved concrete pillars and flow seamlessly into each other.
The concrete columns come together like two hands that almost intertwine.
The interior design was made by John Vugrin. The craftsman who made many of the intricate details to measure for the five different levels inside. The interior had to have the same extraterrestrial character as the outside, so Vugrin built tables and shelves that rotate from the floor to the ceiling. For the kitchen worktop he worked with patinated metal. Apart from a number of chairs and armchairs, each piece of furniture was incorporated into the walls. In addition, every surface you see in the house was treated, inlaid or structured with natural materials such as steel, mahogany and glass tiles. High Desert House is a sublime but at the same time quite drastic form of organic architecture. The word masterpiece is perhaps even an understatement here.