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Rondolino Residence in Scotty’s Junction, Nevada by nottoscale
December 8th, 2011 by Sanjay Gangal
Article source: nottoscale
The Rondolino residence is the prototype of the T-modulome, a prefabricated building system by nottoscale that was first developed in 2002.
Fabrizio Rondolino, an independent writer and author from Rome, Italy commissioned nottoscale to build the T-modulome on an isolated stretch of land in the Nevada desert near Scotty’s Junction. After a couple of challenges that nottoscale faced due to the remoteness of the site and the Wild West mentality of the local contractors, the building was finally completed in December of 2010. During the entire process the client and architect solely communicated via e-mail and did not even meet or talk once.
The site is an isolated piece of land in the Nevada High Desert near Scotty’s Junction and is far from any infrastructure or for that matter any neighbor, which is why nottoscale had to scrape a dirt path to the site, dig a well, create a leech filed and bring electricity to the site. After spending several days on the site, nottoscale situated the building in such a way as to take full advantage of the surrounding views, existing wind patterns and the trajectory of the sun.
The client loves the desert and wanted a vacation home in the middle of this isolated stretch of high desert that incorporates the vistas by visually expanding into the surrounding landscape, providing stunning views, while also making the desert part of the interiors – merging the inside with the outside.
One of the main design considerations was to take advantage of the views and to give the owner the feeling to be in the middle of the desert even though when he is inside the home. This is why nottoscale introduced large floor to ceiling windows in all living quarters and raised the building on a concrete plinth which seems to emerge out of the desert landscape while overlooking the scenery. This gives the user the impression to float over, yet to be completely immersed into the desert landscape. The architect also took great care how to place windows so that they frame special aspects of the landscape – the long and low window in the kitchen for example frames a beautiful mountain range which one can only see while sitting down at the dining table.
The house itself measures 1,200 sf, has 3 bedrooms, two bathrooms, an office, a storage and utility room as well as a large open kitchen, dining room, living room area that can extend onto the deck when the large sliding doors are opened. In order to minimize the built envelope the enclosed rooms are kept relatively small while a 9’-0” ceiling together with floor to ceiling windows make the space seem spacious and flooded with light, while visually expanding and connecting the interiors with the desert landscape.
A large 900 sf deck with a sunken-in hot tub connects the two building modules while creating a transition zone between the inside and outside that through the use of large full height glass sliding doors can be completely opened so that the outside and inside of the building seamlessly merge if one desires so.
The building itself sits on a large concrete plinth elevating the building above the desert floor so that it appears to float above the ground while lifting it out of the flash-flood water level. Passive cooling concepts such as cross and stack ventilation, shading, building orientation were used throughout the project.
The House is oriented in such a way as to take advantage of prevailing winds that, through cross and stack ventilation, maintain a comfortable temperature in the house, avoiding the need for an highly energy intensive air conditioning system. The windows facing south are shaded by the large trellis on the deck while all the bedroom windows are facing north in order to prevent heat-gain. The large crawlspace under the house double functions as storage space as well as a climate buffer as it is filled with gravel that helps to maintain a low average temperature below the house throughout the year.
The house is built with high insulating SIP panels and is heated with a radiant heating system that can easily be upgraded to a radiant cooling system if the client desires to do so. Various sustainable systems and approaches were used in order to minimize the physical as well as the carbon footprint of the building.
The architect did not only furnish the entire house but also provided all items that are needed for a stay such as a fully equipped kitchen, stereo system, washing machine, alarm system and tools, so that the client only needs to bring his clothing and food when he comes to the house. Making this a truly turn key vacation home.
Nottoscale is a San Francisco based collaborative office for architecture, interiors and design, that was founded in 2002 by Peter Strzebniok. The practice merges a distinctively European aesthetic with innovative sustainable design solutions, the exploration of spatial relationships and a new look at materiality in order to create unique design solutions. Nottoscale’s body of work includes the design and construction of projects ranging from residential architecture to commercial interior design including retail, office space, restaurants and bars in California and the larger United States.
Peter Strzebniok is originally from Germany and has been living in the United States since 1994. He has architectural degrees from Germany and the U.S. and is a licensed architect both in California and Berlin, Germany. Peter has more than 14 years of professional experience with a broad range of projects ranging from large-scale civic buildings, universities and museums to restaurants, residential and small-scale commercial spaces. Peter has worked on several significant design projects such as the Student Center at the Illinois Institute of Technology by OMA, the Jewish Museum in San Francisco by Daniel Libeskind, and the California Academy of Sciences in San Francisco by Renzo Piano Building Workshop.
Nottoscale’s work is rooted in an exploration and generation of a modern vocabulary that is informed by program, process, the innovative use of material and an emphasis on spatial relationships. The studio uses the analysis and integration of given constraints – like site conditions, technical as well as material properties, economic limits and program – as an opportunity for creativity, emphasizing the unique character of each project.
Awards and Publications
Nottoscale was a finalist in the Home House Project Competition by the Southeastern Center for Contemporary Art, North Carolina and was included in several exhibitions including “The Home House Project” Exhibit at SECCA, El Paso Museum of Art, Weisman Museum in Minneapolis, Museum of Design in Atlanta, “Affordable Housing – Designing an American Asset” at the National Building Museum, Washington DC and the “Made Modular” Exhibit at the American Institute of Architects, San Francisco.