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Inside an Off-Grid Modern Desert Retreat in Arizona

Arizona studio DUST does it again

A summer home is often an elaborate affair: A multistory escape that unfurls for its residents like a dream. But there's something to be said, too, for a modest retreat, one where closeness to nature and a contemplative environment are ends unto themselves.

Enter this off-grid dwelling in southen Arizona, 15 miles north of the U.S.–Mexico border. Designed by Tucson-based firm DUST, the rectilinear house—called Casa Caldera—comprises board-formed walls made of a volcanic rock aggregate with an earthy, ruddy hue. Clocking in at a compact—though not-quite-tiny 880 square feet—the home is accessed via heavy metal doors that swing open to reveal open-plan interiors organized off a central hallway called a "zaguan."

This isn't DUST's first rodeo when it comes to custom-built residences (the studio created all doors, fixtures, and fittings here): The firm, begun by Cade Hayes and Jesús Robles, found itself in the spotlight for the last home it masterminded, a larger, more luxurious abode for clients outside of Tucson.

Casa Caldera is also an off-grid, sustainable dwelling, with a solar energy system on its site providing electricity for the house. LED lights keep the interiors illuminated at night and heat and hot water are propane powered.