The Finger Rock House, in the foothills of the Santa Catalina mountain range, is a striking structure built on a minimalist program, right outside Tucson, Arizona. It was designed by Tucson-based practice HK Associates Inc. and it is a genuine Fata Morgana of the Arizona desert. Of course, when building a house in the midst of a vast expanse of sand, one must bear in mind the particularities of the site, the non-typical flow of wind and the merciless, nearly constant exposure to sunlight. Hancox and Kothke made these seeming disadvantages work in their favor and designed a home in “direct response to its desert setting and panoramic views”. The second floor is occupied by the living room, dining room and kitchen, a seamless open space with a terrace that corresponds to each of the three areas. Wonderful vistas of the north, south and east horizons are thus achieved, while the western façade is not directly exposed to sunlight, but fitted with a narrow horizontal line for admiring sunsets. The ground floor is reserved for the master and guest bedrooms, a gym and an office, which all seem to expand out into the vast expanses of the desert. The ground floor is a sturdy masonry structure, over which cantilevers the light, airy glass and steel frame of the second story, sheltered from the sun by a roof which folds in on it. The ground floor is more labyrinthine, in that it connects to several inner courtyards and adjoins a 100-foot-long pool.
The Finger Rock Residence is as ‘green’ as it is beautifully designed. Electricity is obtained via an 8kW 48 panel photo-voltaic roof-mounted system, and the sun also generously heats up water for daily use and for the pool. The lighting is almost exclusively LED-based, complemented by color corrected compact fluorescent lighting, which give off ‘cold’ light, ideally suited for a house in the middle of the desert. Power and light are joined by water, in this array of sustainable energy solutions. The home’s folded roof acts as grey water harvesting system, further collected in a 3,400 gallon underground cistern, and employed for saving water and irrigating the ample garden.