A Studio in the Desert: The Little Art Studio by Chen+Suchart
Architect: Chen+Suchart Studio
Location: 6722 North 60th Street, Paradise Valley, AZ 85253 (US)
The project is located on a corner lot delimited by roads to the south and east. The parcel is characterized by its arid landscape, an ensemble of several buildings, a communal outdoor campfire ring and a stream-like wash that flows obliquely across the building site. Chen+Suchart Studio have designed the expansion of the house as a sleek, single-storey rectangular block. While this joins onto the existing house along the north transverse side, the opposite façade has a slight slope and opens onto the surroundings, with a view over the mountains.
Instead of a classic slab foundation, Chen+Suchart Studio have linked the studio to the ground only at six points. Two horizontal steel joists connect the supports to the building itself. This creates the effect that the volume is floating above the earth. Apart from adding visual charm, it also protects the addition from flooding and erosion. The entrance is on the south corner, where five cylindrical volumes at various heights form a sort of stairway. There is a an internal, direct doorway leading from the existing building.
All the façades are clad with large-format panel elements, giving the structure a minimalist character that clearly sets it apart from the design of the existing house. Weather-resistant steel panels and heat-insulated glazing with a reflective coating reflect the desert vegetation and let the studio meld with nature. A skylight on the east side, the entirely glazed south corner and an enormous, glass sliding door that opens to the centre frame the view of the sparse landscape and bring these features indoors.
The interior of the studio has an open design. Only in the northern area are there separate areas for storage and a wetroom. The rest of the space is taken up by the large studio. As required, this area can be structured or zoned with sliding partitions. Seamlessly mounted lighting strips and hanging rails are the only interventions in the otherwise white walls. The design stands diffidently in the background, guiding the focus to the works of art which are either still in progress or being presented in the Little Art Studio.