Architects often take one of two approaches when it comes to designing a home for a rugged, desert landscape. They go with the flow, using forceful stone elements that blend into the site, as if the land itself had birthed the structure. Or, they go against type, opting for more ethereal elements such as glass and steel, which allow the house to rest lightly on the terrain.

The designers from Allen + Philp Architects/Interiors followed both tracks with this 7,450-square-foot home, which is nestled, side-saddle-style, between two mountain slopes. Conceptually, the site is entered from below and the home is viewed sequentially while ascending 90 feet of elevation change, ending at a driving court that is spanned by the structure, framing mountain views and acting as an entry portal. This bridging element is carried out in two distinct volumes. One—a transparent, pavilion-like steel, glass, and stucco structure—is the element that rests lightly. The other—a fortress-like stone, masonry, and glass building—is dug into the hillside, which helps anchor the composition.

Inside, the views that have been at your back are revealed across a negative edge pool that reflects the distant, layered mountains beyond. Simply grouped elegant spaces, dotted with traditional and contemporary regional art, have access to adjacent terraces and patios, which help blur the line between inside and out. The clients wanted their home to be one with the desert, and this design certainly fills the bill.

Award: Grand for custom home over 7,500 square feet
Builder: Linthicum Corp., Scottsdale, Ariz.
Architect: Allen + Philp Architects/Interiors, Scottsdale
Interior designer: David Michael Miller Associates, Scottsdale

Learn more about markets featured in this article: Phoenix, AZ.