Viewing the Boulder House from a particular elevation suggests some deft use of camouflage. That is because the 4,380 sq ft residence in its 9-acre property in the Sonoran Desert flaunts actual boulders as the crucial building material – thus alluding to a symbiotic scope that blends seamlessly with the rocky site. Designed and built over a period of almost 8 years, the resultant ‘stony specimen’ was the handiwork of architect Charles Johnson, and was completed in 1982 to cater to its patrons Sunnie and Bill Empie.
In terms of design, the seemingly organic nature of the Boulder House goes beyond the gimmick factor – to account for the intrinsic architecture. In that regard, most of the wall facades are actually composed of unfinished granite that inducts natural light through their strategically positioned crevices. And to accentuate this high degree of naturalism, even the staircase is hewed from stone. These aspects do aid in making the habitat an consistent, ‘elemental’ component of the landscape – so much so that Boulder House has been chosen as an inductee for the National Historic Register, for its conformance to organic architecture.
This dedication to innateness on the part of the architect is ironically also mirrored by the parts that can be considered ‘synthetic’. For example, the wall facades that are artificially painted actually mimic a reddish-hue of the clay pottery items that were historically discovered on the site. To that end, the location was previously used by Hohokam Indians as a celebration ground for spring equinoxes. And as parting shot by the vernacular scope, this traditional Native American vibe is further captured by the various petroglyphs (rock engravings) inside the Boulder House.
Image Credits: Estately