Desert Canopy House by Sander Architects

Desert Canopy House

Location : Palm Springs, CA7958f8fb93d40c881d334864b249dd0a
“This Hybrid House design came out of the context: the extreme heat of the desert in Palm Springs, CA. Another challenge is the fact that a stunning view of the St Jacinto mountain range asks for large windows but is facing west. This would need some kind of protection from sun infiltration in the high heat of summer such as a large overhang and shutters to block the sun. Despite this, the architects hope to create what promises to be the first zero-net house (new construction) in Palm Springs.

Out of these factors came the idea of creating an enormous roof canopy with pods tucked underneath containing the living spaces.

The roof area is 10,066 sf. Of this, the enclosed area of the habitable spaces is 6208 sf. The house is divided into four separate buildings: the main Living/Dining/Kitchen/Family spaces, a private master suite to the south, and two guest cottages to the north, all under one roof. This arrangement allows for open, airy breezeways between the buildings, which will provide greater privacy between spaces and intimate views outside each building.”

92410411d14652e81965305be593e026“A further refinement resulted in one of the interesting features of this design: the entire west edge of the roof canopy will be hinged and able to rotate down 90º to become thick shutters to block out the light, or to partly lower to reduce the amount of sun penetration.

The building shell has been conceived to employ the techniques of desert-dwellers for thermal insulation. Armadillos and Cacti both use multi-layer systems of shells to protect themselves from extreme temperatures. The outer shell of the building uses Sander Architect’s Hybrid House system to support the roof canopy and will be closed in using SIPs—prefab panels that have a thick layer of Styrofoam for insulation. This insulation will be tripled with two other layers: recycled blue jean bat insulation and a high-tech reflective foil-and-foam wrap much like the “space-age” foil blankets used in survival kits.”

e616cc2c3734fe9338758254fea886a2“The composite R-value of these layers will be in the 90s allowing the homeowners to radically reduce their use of HVAC and their sizeable utility bills. (A standard home would use an R-value in the range of 24 in the roof and 19 in the walls.) The energy load will be picked up by solar panels installed on the 1,800sf flat roof of the Master bedroom pod. The present house on the site, built with poor insulation, costs the client an extraordinary amount of money in electrical bills each summer. When completed, this building shell should reduce the energy requirements to a fraction of the present demand and allow the energy production of the house to not only cover its own needs but to feed back into the grid—creating a zero-net house.

6,000 enclosed sf under a 10,000 sf canopy” sander architectslarge


Desert Canopy House Planlarge-11eb26afd7010f4f98edc27d8d02dcd570






sander architects | prefab

“This is a new type of house that we have developed, using a prefabricated metal frame, skin and roof. We have achieved unprecedented economies by using prefabricated building (warehouse) fabricators to manufacture the most expensive parts of the houses at a fraction of the normal costs. we have also achieved unprecedented scale: some Hybrid Houses have up to 30-foot ceilings. These part prefab, all custom residences have been extremely well received, and will likely redefine the way many houses are conceived and built.

Sander Architects is known for award-winning modern design, innovative use of materials, and strong leadership in the green movement. The Sander Architects brainchild called Hybrid House uses the concept of part prefab, all custom to create a house with all the advantages of prefab in a building that is designed exclusively for the client. The Hybrid House approach is cost efficient, provides lower per-foot construction and allows a budget of any size to go much further.

We have used the part prefab, all custom concept in projects ranging in scale from 2000 to 8000 square feet in rural, suburban, and urban settings. A melding of art and architecture/interior design, the design approach of Sander Architects creates international award-winning buildings that have been published in books and major magazines around the world.”

628a76686ee8a39f55f979922f88fe9fWhitney Sander: Before founding Sander Architects, LLC, in 1987, Whitney received his Masters in Architecture at Yale University, and was in the Peace Corps in West Africa from 1981-1983. Since 1991, he has taught Architecture and Art classes at Yale, UC Berkeley, California College of the Arts (San Francisco), and Woodbury University. As an architect Whitney is considered a leader in green architecture and his work is the recipient of numerous awards and honors.

fe33bf087e23db89cb8532b5622ae40bCatherine Holliss: Catherine is Director of Interior Design for Sander Architects. Catherine received an MFA in Screenwriting from UCLA and is an award-winning writer and web designer. After extensive coursework in the UCLA Extension Interior Design Certificate Program, she joined Sander Architects, LLC, in 2003. As a designer, Catherine is recognized as a leader in green materials and design and has been invited to sit on several green design panels. She regularly guest lectures on green design at UCLA.

sander architects
sander architects | prefab

Profile: Sander Architects is the international award-winning firm whose approach to contemporary residential design has been making waves in the architecture world. Their Hybrid House uses components of prefab technology to create homes that are custom designed for each client. Homes that are not only green but also very high design. This is a time of extraordinary change for practitioners in the design fields and Sander Architects is a young exciting firm determined to be at the forefront of green architecture.

Recognition: Sander Architects has been awarded the Dedalo Minosse International Award for Architecture in 2002 and 2004, along with Pritzker Prize winners Richard Meier and Hans Hollein. Numerous other national awards include AIA awards in 1996 and 2003, Architecture Magazine’s Home of the Year, and Architectural Record’s House of the Month. Publications include magazines such as Dwell, GA: Global Architecture, New York Times and the Los Angeles Times as well as the Los Angeles Times Magazine. Their work has been widely published in books such as Another 100 of the World’s Best Houses, noted architecture critic Michael Webb’s Brave New Houses, Adventures in Southern California Living, and various titles by author James Grayson Truelove. Recently the firm was a semi-finalist in the 2006 Living Steel Competition — which highlights the firm in their “Featured Architects” section (visit the site) — as well as semi-finalists in the 2006 Global Green Sustainable Housing Competition, sponsored by Brad Pitt, to design low-income housing for post-Katrina New Orleans.Philosophy: Sander Architects seeks to find a balance between poetry and pragmatics. Starting with essential elements: environment, program, site restrictions, we encourage forms to develop which satisfy these basic needs while embracing the possibility of the poetic. In this way, a house for an Orthopedic Surgeon becomes a covert study in anatomy: metaphorical skin and bones. The elements that make up an aerobics studio, its interior architecture and furniture, take on physical tendencies: tension, compression, torsion, sinew. The entry for a sculptor’s house is a ‘vessel’ whose proportions are based on a large-scale clay jar produced by the owner. These strategies are covert, not obvious, and allow the built environment to resonate thematically with the program and the people who use it. It is a strategy of innuendo, not declaration, a struggle with nuance, an attempt at quiet fertility. If the work celebrates what it means to inhabit, in grander terms, the work is a celebration of man’s rhythms and rituals.


3274 Fiji Way, Ste. 150
Marina Del Rey, CA 90292
P: 310.822.0300   F: 310.822.0900

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