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Boulder House

Boulder House

A beautifully unique and sumptuous dwelling designed by landscape architect W. Garett Carlson is up for sale.

Joshua Tree has become a place where architectural delights are springing up with some regularity if you know where to look. W. Garrett Carlson and his landscaping firm, LandArc, has designed and built the ‘Boulder House’, the first in a series of desert dwellings.

Carlson, familiar with Palm Springs, participated in a bike ride from the lower desert to Morongo Valley. Fascinated by the high desert, he returned several times and in 2007; his admiration turned into something much bigger. Carlson began buying lots with the intention of creating a series of homes that fuse landscape and architecture into one-of-a-kind structures.

“I had never been in the park,” Carlson said, “…that got me started. I started looking at property and buying 2.5, 3 acre pieces. I have about 8 or 9 of them. I went crazy.” The largest of Carlson’s purchases is 20 acres.

The Boulder House, on 2 acres of land with an additional 2.5 acres available next door, is a cozy, secluded hideaway.  The house is designed with unique architectural elements like a sod roof and a cascading artificial rock encampment that shelters the house from the afternoon heat. The rock, not part of the house, is a structure all its own. It comes off the roof and cuts backs to the house allowing a hollow space for the instant hot water heater. A particularly humorous element built into the rock enclosure is a large hole on one side and a very small opening on the other. When the Coyotes are chasing the rabbits, the rabbits can run in and out but the coyotes can’t follow.

The Boulder house designed specifically for this lot has a view of the mountains and valleys. “I take the time to get a feel for the good views, the bad views, the sun. You get a feeling for the space and then let the space design itself,” said Carlson

The house faces east, deflecting the wind, exterior walls go out on angles, and there are 250,000 pounds of sod on the roof. The structure is made so well it can withstand a 10.0 earthquake. The living room glass doors open to a patio protected from the hot sun and harsh wind, and there is a little watering hole that attracts birds. Both the house and the immediate area is lush with 450 trees and over 1000 shrubs. The garden is on a drip system, and the maturing plants picked for their drought tolerant properties now require a minimum amount of water. The garden is to Carlson, the “energy of the space.”

The house is heated and cooled by a unique commercial system located in a 14 inch cement floor. In the middle are pods that run throughout the house and empty cool air or heat into the house through vents. It takes about 10 – 12 hours to bring it up to temperature and then it will hold consistently. “You can have a snow storm and open all the doors, and the house will stay a perfect temperature,” said Carlson.

“It’s all about living in the space. I design for energy. When you are in a space of mine, you get pumped full of energy, and you don’t want to leave. That to me is really important,” said Carlson, who is busy thinking up new groundbreaking designs.

The house located at 4925 Avenida Del Sol in Joshua Tree will be open during the Art Tours, and anyone interested can check out the website at:

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