NoMo House / Act 2
Expansion of the NoMo House / Act 1 into / Act 2
North Mountain Preserve / Phoenix, Arizona
Dwelling in the dry Sunnyslope region for an extended period of time was a prescription for Tuberculosis patients in the early 1900s, the area was commonly held as a good place to live for those attempting to recover, which resulted in heavy development with clever shelters of a singular design intent.
Settlers built temporary habitats, small cottages, hybrid tents, or squatter camps of cobbled together structures to sustain their stay in the spare and arid foothills. As this craze faded many left, but others found beauty in the lifestyle and the area slowly continued to develop until the post-war boom of the 1940s brought tract-housing and schools, and the community’s focus on radical living gave way to a more pastoral suburban drive.
Today the neighborhood – affectionately referred to as ‘Sunnyslopetopia’ – still struggles to identify itself as one of the best neighborhoods in Phoenix despite its wealth of hillside views, intricate network of trails, and proximity to downtown.
The community has organized Second Saturday Art Walk as well as many successful target reforms, and this project seeks to propose a repatterning of the Greater Phoenix suburban topology to develop an emblematic neighborhood identity through a series of houses that participate in the formation of a new hiking trail terrain park.
Suburbs in Phoenix suffer from the absence of human presence typical of the suburban format, but the heat of the desert also constructs its own distancing effect, an apparent alienation from nature, which come together to create a distinct psychosocial framework.
Recreational infrastructure in the area provides a conduit for reconnecting with the presence of others and the presence of the natural by reframing the scope of the interaction into a controlled social ecology, one that prepares a place for a more certain act of uncertainty to occur, making it appear more vibrant and lively.
Entering a parcel of private property by way of a trail changes the permutation of a property by placing the private domain within the context of the desert public territory.
This approach transforms the house into a form of a vulnerable system, one designed to synthesize exploring the world and connecting with each other into a playful interaction by making room for spontaneity, and constructing the controls that help determine the performance of these two contradicting interiorities.
Approaching the house as a contradiction of trail and residence allows us to explore the crevices in the streetwall of the suburbs, and blend public and private programs into a building theater setup for the acts of human interaction to play out, much like they do naturally in denser cities with ‘privately owned public spaces’.
First we break up the house. Our prescription for the suburbs blends desert and urban into the form of urban terrain park, that extends the spirit of exploration and total immersion in the desert from the trail network back into the city, but now representing a network of discoverable events.
NoMo House aims to reconstruct the tension that one enjoys while exploring the wilderness, or exploring the urban, and stimulating the intrigue of exploring the world around us, without totally surrendering the luxuries of the suburban lifestyle.
The livable area of house is distributed across the streetwall zone of the site, separating the interior into multiple enclosed zones, stimulating in-home mobilization.
Dismantling the streetwall to make room for the terrain park passage
Two large ‘desert coolers’ of operable jalousie glass, shaded steel and concrete, along with a water feature compose the central open-air circulation and provide evaporative cooling for the bedroom and evening living area.
Parting the wall creates an idiosyncrasy in the streetwall structure that is intended to change the address to the desert public from a message of “Stay Out!” or “Stay Off The Lawn!” to something more akin to the expression…
“…You Give Me Butterflies.”
NoMo House / Act 2
Architectural Proposal / Phoenix, Arizona
AS / IS
Colin Billings, Dominique Price
Office AS / IS Team
Ashley Hickman, Kay Yang