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Desert Solitaire
North Central Oregon

The Whitten residence, aka Desert Solitaire, sits on a remote 10 acre site comprised of sagebrush and juniper trees in the high desert of north Central Oregon. Conceived as two simple, interconnected cubes resembling ‘found objects’ in the landscape. One box for sleeping and one for living, the structure offers two distinct means of interaction with the site. The larger sleeping box is low & burrowed into the earth, while the living box floats above, hovering just at treetop level. East & South orientations are exploited for views as well as passive solar orientation of the home.

Exterior materials were chosen for durability and fire resistance. All rainwater is harvested and stored for landscaping or fire fighting purposes. The future pool will provide an additional margin of wildfire safety as a usable body of water for fire suppression on the remote site. Evacuated tube solar water heaters efficiently provide most of the heating for the home through in-floor radiant tubing. The building’s narrow profile and extensive glazing combined with the regions low humidity and cool nights allow for passive cooling of the structure.

Initially tied to the power grid, the structure has provisions to eventually expand its photo voltaic array to the point that the home may be taken off grid entirely using Tesla Powerwall batteries for night time energy storage. The property will become completely self-sufficient, with no other utilities entering or exiting the site.

This home was featured on Season 5, Episode 10 of HGTV’s Extreme Homes television series.

Project Credits

Design Team
Eric Meglasson, Peter Jahnke
R&H Construction
Pedini Seattle, McMurray and Sons, Cement Elegance, Elemental Engineering
North Central Oregon
Alan Brandt, Peter Jahnke