Los Angeles, CAA


House of Earth + Light

     After spending years as a child living in Morocco and later traveling extensively through North Africa, Marwan Al-Sayed's design concept for the House of Earth and Light draws inspiration from the ancient North African desert architecture and the splendor of the Sahara desert.

     Marwan Al-Sayed's House of Earth and Light combines heavy archaic desert walls with an ethereal and luminous light weight fabric and steel roof that captures the abundance of desert light while mitigating its harsher climatic impact. The tension between heavy and light, mass and space, creates an environment in which the roof acts like a "sky-painting", constantly filtering light and shadow. The solid earthbound walls and the gossamer like roof which undulates gently between the light weight metal trusses hopes to create a modern, elegant tent in the desert. Acknowledging the brilliance of the sun and the ever changing light of the desert, as well as the absolute preciousness of shade, the roof provides a "permanent cloud" floating over the solid walls.

     Set within a small residential enclave of architecturally distinctive modern houses including several Frank Lloyd Wright residences, the site is only minutes from the urban core of Phoenix, Arizona. Although primarily low and flat, the site offers dramatic views to the north to the nearby Squaw Peak Mountains and distant eastward views to Camelback Mountain. A shallow "wash", a dry stream bed, heavily foliaged, bisects the site. The wash, a cool and quiet place, is a natural desert oasis and harbors some animal and plant life including small birds, jackrabbits, and desert trees. A ventilated glass and steel bridge spans the wash oasis and is anchored by the monolithic walls forming the two main volumes on opposite sides of the wash.

     The earth walls are composed of an innovative mix of earth and Portland cement and are poured into forms similar to concrete. Hovering above the massive walls, the lightweight steel roof is made from custom designed trusses which accommodate an innovative three layer translucent fabric roof.

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Status: Built
Location: Phoenix, AZ, US
Firm Role: Principal Architect