By Nigel F. Maynard Situated among rock outcroppings in the hillside of Scottsdale, Chiricahua Villas was designed to fit into its desert location. The project objective called for a community enclave where every home related to the others and to the centrally located clubhouse. Each house also had to fit into the layout of the hillside site and tie into the surrounding textures and colors of the desert.

With a restaurant, terraces, and a lounge, the clubhouse anchors the residential and recreational functions of the development and acts as a gathering place for residents. "It creates a community within a community," says architect Barry Berkus.

Each villa is sited for privacy, too. Nestled into the hillside, the villas blend seamlessly with their rustic surroundings and resemble an ancient desert village. The use of desert stone and stone veneer, heavy Douglas fir timber, deep-grouted clay roof tiles, and plaster stucco, which has been washed and weathered to display a patina, serve to enhance the overall charm. "The deep grouted roofs give the feeling of handcrafting and add to the perceived value of the homes," says Berkus.

Photo: Lawrence Anderson Photography

The houses' interiors are designed for maximum views of the desert landscape, golf course, and the city lights beyond. To preserve the vistas, Berkus used a radial form that spans the living room/dining room area. "The radial form allows for a broader view plane," he explains, "but it also allows for more glass openings." In addition, a covered porch adjacent to the living/dining area provides more shaded areas for homeowners. The homes range from 3,861 to 4,359 square feet and cost $1.8 to $3.2 million.

Category: Single-family detached community; Entrant/Architect/Land Planner: B3 Architects/Berkus Design Studio, Santa Barbara, Calif.; Builder: Price Woods, Carefree, Ariz.; Developer/Landscape Architect: Desert Mountain Properties, Scottsdale, Ariz.; Interior Designer: Hilary Reed Interiors, Littleton, Colo.

Photo: Lawrence Anderson Photography

Faux Real

Architectural purists may shun veneer stone, but the product has become a juggernaut on budget-minded projects, even on many with full coffers. Architect Barry Berkus, who used Coronado Stone on this project, remembers when veneer stone looked like a cheap knockoff. That is no longer true. "The texture is so great that most people cannot tell the difference," the architect says. "The palette is broader, and it is much more authentic."

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