A fire in Joshua Tree National Park has severely damaged the Oasis of Mara, a historical site founded by Native Americans. The fire is believed to be arson. High winds spread the fire, although firefighters said it was contained in an approximately one-square-mile area. The conflagration damaged the palm trees, other vegetation, and possibly the site's archeological items, the Associated Press reported. The Serrano people planted 29 palm trees in the desert oasis, and the plantings lent their name to the adjacent city of Twentynine Palms. According to the National Park Service, 140,000 people visit the site each year. Located near the parks main entrance, the Oasis of Mara included a visitor's center and nature trails through the relatively dense vegetation. Yesterday a suspect was taken into custody in connection with the fire. Police arrested Twentynine Palms resident George William Graham, who was charged with "unlawfully setting timber afire."
Posts tagged with "Joshua Tree":
The Joshua Tree Residence by James Whitaker appeared on Dezeen and nearly every other design blog at the end of September. Consisting of splayed shipping containers painted white and placed among rocks near Joshua Tree in California, the form could easily be mistaken for a sculpture. The articles revealed that Whitaker was relocating a design for a studio space in Germany that had been widely publicized in 2015. The client in Germany “had originally requested a design using shipping containers to reduce its cost, which formed the basis for the architect's suggestion to cluster the metal boxes in a radial composition.” But the client’s business closed, so the studio never got built. Two years later, the design is back. Seeing that the building had been designed for the German climate, one might think that the design might not be suitable for a brutally hot desert in California. But back in 2015, Whitaker indicated that he “believes the design could be located anywhere.” In 2017, the splayed container complex has changed from black to white and has been re-located to an extremely rocky site “in a gully formed by years of stormwater.” There is no longer any mention of this being a low-cost scheme; it is clearly an expensive holiday home for a rich client. After all, you can’t just cut pieces out of shipping containers and bolt them together into any shape you’d like if you expect them to stand up: this is a fully custom steel building. While it would be easy to criticize yet another shipping container project on the basis of it being made out of shipping containers, what is more remarkable is the publicity one can get for renderings of a structure that has no connection to its site or program. At the scale of a single family home, especially a custom one for a wealthy client, one might expect some connection between the building and its site. Whether it be views, access, climate or context, designing a home like this is an opportunity to craft it for its location, particularly when the location is as extreme and awe-inspiring as the desert. But Whitaker’s interest here is primarily in visualization, which he speaks of in the 2015 Dezeen article:
"With visualizations you can approach the image as you would a photo shoot in a studio, manipulating the light and the materials to achieve exactly the moment you are seeking. The key then becomes bringing in that element of serendipity–making the image feel human and triggering an emotion."The architecture itself does little to go beyond the moment captured in the visualization. While the plan has been adjusted slightly from the original design for the German site, the same basic parti is in place. Awkward seven foot wide rooms are arranged around a central core, with every space facing outwards to a window that fills the frame of the container. Beds fit the width of the bedrooms facing the landscape. One can only imagine the client climbing over the plywood headboard each evening to turn in. The renderings are striking, depicting an aggressively sculptural, formal object in the extreme climate of the California desert. On that account, Whitaker is successful. But if this is to be evaluated as a piece of architectural design, I am much less convinced. Maybe it will never get built, or maybe every few years, the renderings will pop up with the building located in an entirely different context under exciting new headlines: “Splayed container building houses underwater hotel,” or “Clustered containers make Antarctic research station.” This might be the most interesting option.
This past weekend AN West Coast Editor Sam Lubell joined the A+D Museum in Joshua Tree to discuss the upcoming exhibition, Never Built: Los Angeles. The A+D Museum hosted the party at the Blu Homes-designed home of Tim Disney in Joshua Tree. The gorgeous prefab is sited in the middle of a what looks like a Martian landscape, with weird trees and amazing rock formations. Partiers were treated to a preview of the show from the curators, moderated by Blu Homes' creative director Karl Daubmann. If you want to find out more about the show, watch the curators appear on Southern California station KCET's SoCal Connected this evening at 5:30 and 10:30 PST.
On September 15th and 16th modular home builder Blu Homes is hosting its own home tour in Joshua Tree in the Mojave Desert. The three-bedroom house on view was factory built, transported by truck and recently unfolded on site (see video after the jump). Of course large windows, shaded outdoor spaces, and a constant connection to the outdoors work in other places too, but it's certainly dramatic in the desert. If you want to see for yourself, RSVP here (and bring your sunscreen). But how do you find the land to build a home like this? Blu and real estate site Redfin are teaming up to help potential buyers identify and buy properties on which to build their prefabs. This seems to have been the missing link for this type of home, so perhaps they're on to something?