Architecture

Bunker-like bolthole lays low on the US-Mexico border

Bunker-like bolthole lays low ...
Casa Caldera is passively cooled and operates totally off-the-grid
Casa Caldera is passively cooled and operates totally off-the-grid
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The center of the home is built around a zaguan – essentially a large corridor/living area
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The center of the home is built around a zaguan – essentially a large corridor/living area
Casa Caldera is passively cooled and operates totally off-the-grid
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Casa Caldera is passively cooled and operates totally off-the-grid
Located just 15 miles (24 km) north of the US-Mexico border, the rural vacation home is empty for six months a year
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Located just 15 miles (24 km) north of the US-Mexico border, the rural vacation home is empty for six months a year
Dust spent significant time at the site, ensuring that the prevailing breeze would permeate within
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Dust spent significant time at the site, ensuring that the prevailing breeze would permeate within
According to Dust, the balance of the home's air pressure also ensures that air is pulled through to cool the interior naturally
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According to Dust, the balance of the home's air pressure also ensures that air is pulled through to cool the interior naturally
The lounge area
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The lounge area
While the exterior is unashamedly brutal, the interior is warmer than you might expect
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While the exterior is unashamedly brutal, the interior is warmer than you might expect
The wood that is used on the ceiling and Zaguan walls is reclaimed sassafrass
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The wood that is used on the ceiling and Zaguan walls is reclaimed sassafrass
All windows are operable and the minimal lighting used is efficient LED
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All windows are operable and the minimal lighting used is efficient LED
Only one truck full of waste resulted form the home's construction
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Only one truck full of waste resulted form the home's construction
The recently-completed home is definitely a case of function over form and looks like a bunker of some kind at first glance
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The recently-completed home is definitely a case of function over form and looks like a bunker of some kind at first glance
Unwelcome interest from passing migrants and narco-traffickers was a big concern
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Unwelcome interest from passing migrants and narco-traffickers was a big concern
The home is built around a zaguan – essentially a large corridor/living area
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The home is built around a zaguan – essentially a large corridor/living area
Access to the home comes via large bi-folding metal doors at each end of the zaguán, and these can also be positioned at multiple angles to effectively channel the prevailing breeze inside
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Access to the home comes via large bi-folding metal doors at each end of the zaguán, and these can also be positioned at multiple angles to effectively channel the prevailing breeze inside
All windows are operable and the large doors ensure the prevailing breeze can permeate within
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All windows are operable and the large doors ensure the prevailing breeze can permeate within
Only one truck full of waste resulted form the home's construction
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Only one truck full of waste resulted form the home's construction
The home is built around a zaguan – essentially a large corridor/living area
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The home is built around a zaguan – essentially a large corridor/living area
One of the small bedrooms
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One of the small bedrooms
The home takes its place very well
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The home takes its place very well
Entrance to the home
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Entrance to the home
A small wood--burning stove
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A small wood--burning stove
This off-grid desert bolthole is a lot more sophisticated than appears at first glance
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This off-grid desert bolthole is a lot more sophisticated than appears at first glance
One of the bedrooms
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One of the bedrooms
Architectural drawing of Casa Caldera
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Architectural drawing of Casa Caldera
Architectural drawing of Casa Caldera
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Architectural drawing of Casa Caldera
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Located just 15 miles (24 km) north of the US-Mexico border, Casa Caldera is a vacation home that's often left empty for long stretches of time, so unwelcome attention from potential migrant and narco-traffickers was deemed a concern. In response, Tucson, Arizona-based firm Dust designed a discreet, secure, and surprisingly sustainable desert bolthole.

The recently-completed dwelling offers an example of function over form and looks more like a WWII-era bunker than your typical vacation pad. Constructed from "LavaCrete," a mixture of red scoria, lava rock, cement and water, the home is barely visible among the surrounding wild grass and trees, and passersby could easily walk right past the place without noticing it – which is the point, of course.

The interior of the home is arranged around a zaguán, a large ventilating corridor that runs through the center of the house and offers a flexible additional area used for sleeping and dining. The lounge and kitchenette are located behind large glass doors to one side of the zaguán, while two bedrooms and single bathroom are situated on the other side, behind wooden doors.

The center of the home is built around a zaguan – essentially a large corridor/living area
The center of the home is built around a zaguan – essentially a large corridor/living area

Access is gained via large bi-folding metal doors placed at each end of the zaguán and these can be positioned at multiple angles to channel the prevailing breeze inside. The few small windows (with thick steel window frames) are all operable too. According to Dust, the balance of the home's air pressure also naturally pulls air through to cool the interior.

These measures, along with Casa Caldera's 18 in (45 cm)-thick walls, must be effective at keeping the home cool, as it requires no air-conditioning even in summer, which is no mean feat in that part of the world. If the temperature drops too low, meanwhile, a fireplace and small wood-burning stove are available.

A single truck full of waste resulted from the home's construction and it operates totally off-the-grid. The minimal lighting consists of energy-efficient LEDs, while a small solar power system provides electricity. A well provides water, and the oven, water heating, and refrigerator are all powered by propane gas bottles.

Source: Dust via Arch Daily

View gallery - 25 images
8 comments
morongobill
They used to be called breezeways.
GeneMoore
Having learned the lightweight concrete system from the inventor, Rolo Ewers, some 25 years ago, I know this is a great super insulated concrete. It works very well and is ideal for such a situation. When your building is fireproof, earthquake proof, even bullet proof, and still economical, and then it needs almost no maintenance,,,well what's not to like.
Charles Barnard
There's no good reason for it to be so full of right angles...which is the only thing about it that is jarring and out of sync with the landscape, even just softening them would help.
Could just as easily have been designed to look like a natural outcropping of rock---one of the nice things about concrete.
A Monolithic.org thin shell ferrocement/polyurethane shell would have been even less intrusive, and much easier to build and probably at a lower cost.
It would also be proof against tornadic winds...
Bob Flint
What do you mean discreet, hardly noticeable, "It's a big block of rectilinear concrete, steel, & glass stuck in the low scrubland with a few scraggly trees. We isn't' this buried in a hillside or semi submerged, or at least shape it like a huge bolder....
MerlinGuy
Uh... Didn't the whole point of being discrete just get destroyed by having the location and pictures posted on the internet?
habakak
It has lots of straight lines and will stick out like a sore thumb.
Nik
"the home is barely visible among the surrounding wild grass and trees, "
You'd have to be blind, or blind drunk to miss this building. Having, "thick steel window frames," doesn't make it any more secure, the windows still have glass, which breaks easily. To be secure when unattended, it would need, thick steel shutters, on the windows, with very secure fittings and locks. Then there is the roof..., is that also concrete? If not, then that would also be an easy entry point, with an adjacent tree to provide access. The architects at 'Dust,' need to sober up, and apply their brains a little more effectively to the security issue.
T N Args
If the location is an attraction to illegal immigrants and drug traffickers, why would vacationers want to have holidays in the area?