Desert Canopy House

Lead DesignerWhitney Sander
Project LinkView
Prize(s)Honorable Mention
Entry Description

The design for the Desert Canopy House emerged from its context: the extreme heat of Palm Springs, CA. To make matters more challenging, capturing the most stunning view on the site of the St. Jacinto mountain range required large windows facing west. As Palm Springs regularly simmers with summer temperatures around 120 degrees (F), a western exposure with lots of glass can cause enormous heat gain. Sander Architects’ solution was to overhang the glass line with a fifteen-foot cantilever to reduce to practically zero the time when the setting summer sun’s rays penetrate the inside of the house.

From these factors emerged the idea of creating an enormous roof canopy with pods tucked underneath containing the living spaces. The roof area of the house is 10,066 sf, and below is the enclosed area of 6208 sf of habitable space. 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 provides greater privacy between spaces and intimate views outside each building.

The house is also extremely efficient. It is a Hybrid House, a type of construction conceived by Sander Architects, which uses a prefabricated, metal structural system that still offers enough flexibility for custom design. By building the most expensive structural components at a fraction of the typical costs, the client’s budget can go much further. The house additionally reduces expenses through the use of a triple-layer insulation system and solar panels, making it Palm Springs’ first net zero energy home.

In the Desert Canopy House, sustainability, prefabrication, and aesthetics work seamlessly together to create a living environment that is both efficient and beautiful.