BY DAVE BASULTO
(editor-in-chief of the website ArchDaily)
Since the '70s, sculptor and earthwork artist Charles Ross has been working in the New Mexico desert on "Star Axis," an impressive pyramidal concrete structure that blends into the landscape and allows visitors to see the complexity of the celestial skies with the naked eye. The work is best experienced at night, though, and since it's in the middle of untouched nature, finding lodging has long been a problem for visitors. To solve the issue, Ross commissioned Hillary Sample and Michael Meredith of Boston-based firm Mos to design a facility for guests that would deliver an off-the-grid living experience. "It is one of the projects where the client allowed us to experiment with him, in form, experimentation, and function," says Meredith, whose firm is constantly researching different systems and construction techniques (in fact, Mos is presenting a pre-fabricated modular home that is being shown in full-scale plywood model at this month's inaugural Chicago Architect Biennial). The design for Elements House is set up to withstand the extreme weather of the desert. An aluminum cladding creates a tunnel of air between the house and its exterior, moving heat from the roof to its cool and shaded sides. The shiny structure's cutting-edge features make it look, from a certain angle, like a machine for living - and from another, just a home.