Desert eco-architecture as a design guideline for a student housing in Arizona
A sustainable building, able to stand and even take advantage of the desert climate and the landscape that welcome it.
This is the point of departure of the study SCB (Solomon Cordwell Buenz) of Chicago in developing the design of Tooker House, the housing for students of the Engineering Faculty at Arizona State University.
Seven floors, 1,582 beds, 5 staff units and a few university offices. Plus an avant-garde laboratory of 325 square meters, a 525-seat dining facility, a recreation area with billiards and ping-pong tables, a modern gym with sophisticated cardio equipment, and a convenience store equipped with everything.
Tooker House is almost an oasis in the desert, if we think that Tempe, Southern Arizona, is characterized by a desert climate made of mild winters followed by hot summers.
The complex designed by SCB smartly addresses the climatic and environmental boundaries.
First of all thanks to complex’s massing, siting and shape – two primary buildings facing east west, which allows them to “self-shade” the internal courtyards and facades. The volumetric mass of the complex also promotes aeration, with the wind blowing mainly from the west and freely crossing the two blocks. Then, through a targeted choice of colors and materials: sand colors that do not fade with constant exposure to sunlight, robust and durable materials such as stone and metal.
To guarantee maximum control from the sun’s rays, the southern façade is protected by shelters and dotted with hundreds of vertical louvres, positioned according to a precise algorithm.
Another element that denotes the sustainable nature of the building is the rainwater collection system which, during the rare but abundant rainfall, is channeled from the roof into a large underground cistern.
Photo Credits: Bill Timmerman