Project: The Landing House
Architecture: Industry of All Nations
Project Team: Fernando Gerscovich, Juan Diego Gerscovich
General Contractor: Mano a Mano
Location: Joshua Tree, California, United States
Photo credits: Ye Rin Mok
Industry of All Nations (IOAN), a research, design, and development office committed to sustainable production, is the team behind the design and creation of The Landing House, a modern wood pavilion integrated into the rugged natural landscape of the Mojave Desert, against the backdrop of California’s Joshua Tree National Park.
Approximately 130 miles east of Los Angeles, and only minutes from the entrance to Joshua Tree National Park, The Landing House is seemingly worlds away. Designed with sustainability at its core, and at every turn, the home masterfully blends into the layout, textures, and color palette of its desert canvas.
“The landscape is harsh, and it can take decades for a plant or tree to recover if displaced from its delicate ecosystem,” explains Fernando Gerscovich, a Buenos Aires-born architect who, along with his brothers, Juan Diego and Patricio, created The Landing House as a comfortable human habitat in the desert environment. “We were determined to minimize disruptions of the natural landscape, so our design focused on integration that wouldn’t disturb the surrounding plants and natural geography of the land.”
A breathtaking discovery
On a visit to the region in 2019, the brothers were struck by the natural attributes of the area, including its other-worldly landscape and natural light patterns. Creatively inspired, they purchased a five-acre parcel of land where they could apply interesting architectural techniques to the realization of their vision of an integrated retreat nestled into the untouched desert landscape.
The land was blessed with the presence of iconic Joshua trees, abundant natural boulder formations, and majestic views, providing the sense of being in a national park within a national park. Within a stone’s throw of a pair of Joshua trees, the designers envisioned the house as a metaphoric fallen branch. Their design focused on eco-humility, beginning with a low-profile volumetric scale of 9 feet to ensure that the structure would not impose on the landscape.
“We also chose very simple, low-maintenance materials, including concrete, cedar, and glass, that will age naturally within the surrounding environment,” says Gerscovich. “The house still looks new, but we fully expect it to naturally weather and gray in a beautiful way over time.”
A desert retreat
The Landing House has emerged as a refuge designed for privacy and tranquility, available for the world at large to experience as a vacation rental hosted by Homestead Modern. A 400-yard private road leads through terrain flanked by Joshua trees, winding its way to a 9-foot-high horizontal wall that fully conceals the house. A strategically-planted dancing Yucca tree welcomes guests and demarcates The Landing House’s integrated entrance. Through the smartly concealed entrance, first glimpses of the house emerge from a breezeway landing dividing two volumes to the left and right, with an open courtyard straight ahead that frames the Mojave Desert and overlooks a plunge pool.
“The division of the volumes was conceived as a way to sort of remind people of the natural beauty of their surroundings,” says Gerscovich. “It’s a subtle way of encouraging people to step outside, into nature, in the course of their movements through the house.”
Blurring the lines
The Landing House’s warm and thoughtful balance of natural materials and modern amenities provides a comforting core in the embrace of an untouched native landscape. The floorplan features two bookended bedroom suites, with the breezeway landing connecting the house as two wings. At one end, a bedroom suite with a uniquely-designed round window connects to a main floorplan encompassing a living room, a kitchen, and a dedicated workspace. To the other side of the breezeway, a second bedroom with its own private access, known as the Pool Suite, occupies roughly a third of the house.
All internal spaces of The Landing House are clad in cedar wall paneling, with slightly polished concrete floors, and thoughtfully-designed white oak furniture. Floor-to-ceiling sliding glass doors provide unobstructed views of the pristine desert landscape, and all areas of the floorplan overlook a plunge pool in the courtyard.
A deep breath of serenity
A concrete platform extends perpendicularly from the breezeway landing to the plunge pool, with its monolithic and geometric form designed for soulful moments overlooking the vast beauty of Joshua Tree National Park. To the right, a separate structure houses a carport with a solar panelled roof, providing vehicles with a necessary reprieve from the hot desert sun. To the left, a firepit is hand-carved into a boulder that has been left in place.
Concealed from the courtyard, but intimately tucked away just around the corner, a sculptural landing pad with yoga mats sets the stage for Zen moments against the backdrop of a natural rock formation Framed by oxidized solid steel, the landing pad is filled with a compacted base of desert soil, further integrating it into the natural landscape.
A testament to sustainability
On the boundary of Joshua Tree National Park, The Landing House has emerged as a prime example of eco-sensitive stewardship and sustainable architecture. Its non-intrusive horizontal form complements its natural surroundings, providing balance to the designers’ vision of peaceful coexistence with the environment. Furthermore, with The Landing House integrated into the existing terrain, its landscape architecture is delivered courtesy of Mother Nature.
“Our core vision revolves around the process of creating things in truly sustainable ways, and we are proud of The Landing House as an extension of that vision,” concludes Fernando Gerscovich. “It is a reminder to us all that sustainability can be applied in beautiful ways to all aspects of our daily lives.”