In the middle of the sparse Joshua Tree National Park in California, where the temperatures reach into the hundreds in the summer, architects Linda Taalman and Alan Koch (taalmankoch, Los Angeles) have created an intelligent and efficient house. The minimalist IT house consists mostly of glass, and it combines a raw industrial aesthetic with sustainable design in a minimalistic manner: solar cells on the flat roof collect solar energy, generously proportioned doors and windows that are flush to the floor provide for cross ventilation, and the clever roofing provides for shadows in the unrelenting desert heat. Even the bathroom, which features a Duravit bathtub and washstand, opens to the cool courtyard, ensuring twice the refreshment.
Taalman und Koch are actually based in Los Angeles, where they run their design studio. The couple have made a name for themselves in the USA with the concept of cubes and reduced living units. Several years ago the architects played with the idea of building a refuge in Joshua Tree. They chose the name “IT House” for their new home. However this does not refer to the abbreviation for information technology, but rather is derived from the famous expression “IT Girl”. After all the new house is supposed to be an exemplary prototype for prefabricated houses with glass walls. For after the couple completed a similar project for a client in Orange County, the desire for their own glass house grew. They finally fulfilled their dream on five hectares near the community of Pioneertown, which in former days served as a backdrop for westerns.
The IT House unites high-tech with handcraft in a unique way and offers residents a new visual and physical relationship with their environment. Taalman and Koch believe that modern architecture should bring us back closer to nature, which is why their concept of “IT House” has long been in production. Under the motto “Less is Less” — less weight, less work, less trash, less waste — further IT Houses that offer a unique living space have been created.
In the undulant scenery of Joshua Tree, between rocks and dry desert undergrowth, Taalman and Koch began to build their refuge in 2006. The layout includes an aluminum frame system covered with perforated steel. The bedroom and bathroom as well as the living area range two inner courtyards. When bathing in Duravit’s Happy D. tub, the door to the inner courtyard stays open so that both water and ventilation ensure proper cooling. No air conditioning is needed, for energy efficiency is at the core of the IT House concept. Floor heating takes care of the warmth required at night, while cross ventilation provides freshness during the daytime. Energy and hot water are generated by photovoltaic and solar thermal panels.
Furthermore the windows and sliding glass doors are made of “Solar Ban 60” glass with thermal insulation (Low-E). The exterior of this special glass is coated with a microscopically thin, almost invisible metal layer that works like a filter. Long-wave radiation (e.g. infrared) is blocked, while short-wave, visible light can pass through.