Learning from Historic Arizona Houses: How to create comfort today-Five Historic Arizona Building Types
Prehistoric Era Architecture
A thousand years ago, the native people of Arizona developed sustainable homes, communities, and cultures that were at one with nature. Having none of the modern technologies we have today, they relied upon principles of physics, opportunities of the landforms, and natural building materials to control the same four comfort factors we must address--temperature, humidity, air-flow, and exposure. Sinaguan cliff dwellers at Montezuma Castle sheltered a 20-room stone apartment house in a secure, south-facing cave overlooking the cooling creek that watered their irrigated fields.
- Sinagua Cliff Dwelling
- Stone, timber
Sonoran Traditional Architecture-The Desert House
The 18th-century Spanish missionaries introduced to Arizona the adobe brick construction methods and building forms that were based upon ideas perfected by the Moors and Romans centuries earlier in the arid climates around the Mediterranean Sea. Their naturally-comfortable courtyard houses, composed of a series of adobe-walled rooms, can teach us ways of adapting modern houses to the Arizona environment.
- Sonoran Tradition
- Adobe, timber
Territorial Era Architecture-The Mountain House
The Craftsman-style 1904 Riordan Mansion, in the forest of Flagstaff, appears to be a huge, rustic log chalet built by an army of lumberjacks. Devised to work with nature, architect Charles Whittlesey concealed many artfully-designed features that assure a comfortable home year-round.
- Architect: Charles Whittlesey
- Craftsman style
- Log slabs on frame, stone
Organic Architecture-The Sustainable House
Frank Lloyd Wright applied the principles of nature and building traditions of native cultures to develop his architectural philosophy of Organic Architecture. His own winter home, Taliesin West, responds to the opportunities and constraints of the arid Sonoran desert.
- Architect: Frank Lloyd Wright
- Wrightian style
- Desert Masonry
1951-Benjamin Adelman House
As a solution to the suburban expansion of
America, Wright developed the Usonian house concept (Adelman House) as
an affordable, low-maintenance modern residence built of prefabricated,
interlocking concrete blocks. Midcentury homebuilders adopted only individual architectural
features of his house designs (such as open floor plans, indirect lighting, carports, and corner windows)
rather than embracing his principles of total design with nature to make
- Architect: Frank Lloyd Wright
- Usonian Style
- Concrete Textile Block
Production Housing Construction
1955-Suburban Tract House
Developed during the Great Depression of the mid-1930s, by California architects, as an affordable alternative to the stylish, comfortable bungalow, the simple Ranch style house became America’s favored residence for mass production after World War II. Suburban tract developers and builders thought of their domestic structures as “products” rather than “homes.” They relied upon cheap energy and modern mechanical conveniences rather than traditional desert construction concepts to make the houses comfortable.
- Ranch style
- Brick or concrete block, pre-fab wood trusses
Rosie on the House presents Rydens on the State House
Don and Erik Ryden from Ryden Architects, Inc. on the dome of the Arizona State Capitol Building with 'Winged Victory'!
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