Desert Shelters

Here’s an article on the current batch of desert shelters designed by students at the Frank Lloyd Wright School of Architecture.

“They’re architectural experiments,” said Victor Sidy, dean of the school and designer of one of the approximately 40 desert shelters at Taliesin West. “They get great feedback about what works and what doesn’t work.”

Students who choose to undertake the challenge get $1,000 to spend on an approved project and must secure their own building materials. Now through mid-April, anyone who wants to see a survey of decades of student creativity can take a Desert Shelters tour.

Ultimately, the desert becomes the teacher. These architecture students confront the elements - from surprisingly strong winter winds to frequent visits from pack rats and other critters - to construct a shelter that honors its environment.

“Each one has a specific, special quality about it,” Sidy said, describing the wildly different shelters “almost like poems, the way they interpret the desert.”

Tours of the student-built are available at Taliesin West through mid-April ($40):

The conviction that architecture is more than lines on paper draws many students to the Frank Lloyd Wright School of Architecture. The Desert Shelter program is the living laboratory where for more than seventy years students have designed, built and inhabited their own architectural experiments. On this tour students give you an up close and personal visit to these shelters, from the basic sheepherder’s tent to dramatic structures perched at the edge of desert washes.