Unfortunately, after 88 years, the Frank Lloyd Wright’s School of Architecture at Taliesin is closing because the Governing Board of the school was not able to reach an agreement with the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation to keep it open. Generations of architecture students have had a chance to immerse themselves in creative experimentation, often designing and living in their own residences on the campus.
Incorporating elements like sustainability, natural materials, and harmony with nature, these temporary structures — particularly those in the Sonoran Desert at Taliesin West — especially interesting.Simon de Aguero created this unusual wide-open desert home almost entirely from found scraps and local materials, with a core structure built out of rammed earth. The design is an abstracted tribute to the way boulders jut out of the earth in the desert, with a shade hovering like clouds overhead. The design enables a refreshing level of interaction with nature. The ability to build a fire beneath the bed platform is a particularly interesting feature.
“Little Shelters” is a collaborative student project built with a $2,000 budget using as many on-site resources as possible. The students spent 12 weeks constructing two shared shelters and a gathering space that could be used and maintained by future students, as well.
Jaime Inostroza’s “Atalaya Shelter” is rooted in a desire to deeply understand the landscape itself. The design sprang into his mind when he first encountered the perfect site for it. He explains: “It was like secret place hidden in the wash, covered by the shadows of the trees and looking out at the wash and the desert. I used the existing concrete pad like a plinth that holds this structure and continued the procession with a combination wall-stair. The shelter will be covered with fabric panels that will amplify the colors of the desert.”
Taliesin West also inspired architects and designers who weren’t students there, including Kate Brown, who created the sculptural Etazin Chair specifically for the school. Made of steel, the circular eight-foot lounger features an inner ring that can spin to face any direction the user desires. It’s on permanent installation at the school among the student shelters in the desert.