There’s a reason this infill property sat vacant for years. Located on a hillside near downtown Phoenix, the vantage point offered great views of the mountains and city lights. But the lot itself was an odd peninsular shape on a steep slope with a hefty amount of street frontage. The resulting setback requirements made compliance with the city’s stringent Hillside Ordinance a bit of a challenge. And that’s not all. The lot was also “scarred” by an old road that cut right through its prime buildable area.

Architect Hugh Knoell could have thrown up his hands at those impossible conditions, but instead chose to embrace them. Designed in the manner of an intimate compound, the 5,500-square-foot residence repurposes the old road as a driveway between the main house and a detached garage. These two structures are connected by a bridge that simultaneously creates a view deck on top and shelter for the front entry below. And the interplay between buildings creates interesting indoor-outdoor spatial relationships that frame views while at the same time preserving privacy.

Created as the primary residence of developer Mike Cowley and interior designer Lee Allen, the house uses glazing liberally and employs dramatic cantilevered roof forms to protect its south elevation from the hot summer sun. It’s clad in traditional desert stone, per HOA guidelines, but the aesthetic is more contemporary than traditional.

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