Tyler House Sonoran Desert Modernist Residence – Tubac, AZ, USA ๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ธ

A modernist family home set in the Sonora Desert of Arizona

  • Name: Tubac House
  • Bedrooms: 4
  • Bathrooms: 5
  • Size: 3,870 sq. ft.
  • Lot: 5.0 acres
  • Built: 1999

Tubac House emerges from the arid landscape of Southern Arizona as a study in contrasts and harmonious connections between architecture and the stark beauty of the desert. Designed by renowned architect Rick Joy, whose work is characterized by an emotive and experiential approach, this residential project is a manifestation of the delicate balance between the ruggedness of the natural environment and the refined aesthetics of modern living. The residence, comprising two orthogonal shed-like structures, a family wing and a guesthouse, unites raw steel exteriors with an interior palette of white plaster, stainless steel, maple, and translucent glass. Integrated cooling systems, cross ventilation, and polished concrete floors enhance the desert living experience, while cast-in-place concrete walls pay homage to the influential Mexican architect Luis Barragรกn.

The strategic siting of Tubac House amplifies its engagement with the surrounding vistas and natural phenomena. Located 25 miles from the Mexican border, the property offers uninterrupted views of Tumacacori Peak, lightning storms, and the “Sky Islands” through carefully placed steel box window forms. The home’s layout, with its large courtyard and negative edge pool, maximizes the visual connection to the desert, mountains, and wildlife, inviting residents to engage with the land and sky. The juxtaposition of the exterior’s weathered steel, resembling artifacts from a bygone era, against the stark desert setting underscores the home’s aesthetic and structural duality.

The selection of Tubac House’s location was a careful choice by art connoisseurs Rose and Warren Tyler, driven by their passion for star gazing and the dry climate’s suitability for astronomical observation. The home, which doubles as a Faraday cage to protect their art collection from desert storms, reflects an architectural narrative that is as much about discovery as it is about dwelling. The rusted sheeting enclosure and windows oriented toward celestial bodies exemplify a design that is deeply responsive to both its environmental context and the unique lifestyles of its inhabitants, making it not just a place of residence but a platform for engaging with the cosmos.

  • Architect: Studio Rick Joy
  • Photography: Jeff Goldberg, Andy Tinucci
  • Location: 18 Latigo Ln, Tubac, AZ 85646, USA

Floor Plans


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