August 3, 2011

I love this small house, plunked down in the desert near Death Valley...

... but an astounding sentence appears at slide #4 of the slide show:
The house has no air-conditioning; a ceiling fan hangs overhead.
Exposed like that — with no shade — in a very hot desert? It's beautiful, but unless you've devised some sort of spiritual practice out of enduring heat, why would anyone choose to live like that?

81 comments:

The Crack Emcee said...

It's beautiful, but unless you've devised some sort of spiritual practice out of enduring heat,...

And that's how it begins,...

traditionalguy said...

Its the latest thing in Sweat Lodges.

Survival is optional. It's all about personal rebirth.

Fred4Pres said...

It is not a summer house, but in the winter, spring, and fall it would probably be okay comfort wise. One is okay, a lot of them would be a blight on the landscape.

The night sky there must be amazing.

Freeman Hunt said...

Yeah, I don't get it.

Build a neat house but make it (literally) hellish inside, why?

Carol said...

I was going to guess high ceilings, but...nope.

Maybe they should check out some Spanish mission architecture.

m stone said...

Easily a place to lose your mind.

The Crack Emcee said...

Conceptually, that house makes no sense without air conditioning.

It's cool looking, but that would be the first modification, if I bought it.

Don Pettengill said...

Not as bad as it sounds. Out of direct sunlight. Low humidity. Certainly better than living in Singapore without AC - which many do. Need plenty of fluids for sure and maybe a few hot peppers to encourage sweat :-) After Singapore I found Dallas in sumer quite balmy :-)

Irene said...

Maybe the nights are cool enough to keep the house from overheating during the day.

It's like all those people who run the risk of freezing to death in the desert on episodes of "I Shouldn't Be Alive."

Why does one of the captions highlight how the house features "utilitarean bathrooms." Aren't most bathrooms utilitarean?

Overall impression: very Italian.

Terry said...

The flat, arid desert that circles their property not far from Death Valley gives way to gentle mountains.
"Gentle mountains"? Full of alkili, rattle snakes, tarantulas and scorpions? Looks like Death's waiting room to me.

Irene said...

Freezing to death *at night.*

MarkG said...

I think the shade of indoors, a light breeze from open windows and the ceiling fan, and a bit of acclimation would make it okay in summer as well. Wood siding doesn't look right, though.

NorthOfTheOneOhOne said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
jamboree said...

Looks like a designer trailer. I love the desert. It's like living on another planet. It attracts unusual types. You can actually hear a slight buzz in the air - and it's not the power lines.

My grandfather had an artist's shack out in the desert. He had wanted to be a poet, but one semester teaching snotty rich kids made him go back to law school. He was successful, but kept a poet's shack out in the desert to feed his more bohemian leanings. This is much nicer, of course. Anyway, no central air.

I also know someone that chooses to live out there. He was a successful professional in his 30s and then got mysteriously ill. He went to all kinds of doctors - none of them helped, and a few hurt.

At first he lived with his sister, but then in an effort to have his own life despite his difficulties, he moved out there and bought a house cash with what he had left so he could live off of interest. He's never taken any public assistance of any kind. He had to accept his new situation.

I think at that point I'd finally be convinced to move out of state - though I love CA out to Joshua Tree, but Death Valley is a little over the borderline even for me.

It'd be really nice out there most seasons - except for late summer to early fall. Maybe they have friends. It's a way to get the feeling of limitlessness with not too much $$$, plus there really is something special about desert air. And yes, the night sky would be amazing.

EDH said...

Must be seasonal. How can you be an "Italian journalist" living full time in the Nevada desert?

Unknown said...
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Big Mike said...

Well, first of all they're in the high desert -- not actually in Death Valley.

Second, the house is designed to get breezes circulating as air is pulled in from below and out the skylights -- which can open, as you see in the slides.

And it's not impossible that NorthoftheOneohOne is also correct -- when I worked in El Paso there were a lot of houses with what appeared to be "chimneys" that turned out to be evaporative cooling systems.

Unknown said...

Probably has an evaporative cooling system. Works well in low humidity environments, almost as comfortable as A/C. It's basically a damp pad with a fan blowing over it. The rapid evaporation of the water in the air creates a cooling effect.

Synova said...

The mystic who built a chapel down the road left because it was too "lonely". Can you say "euphemism for no customers?" Yes, I knew you could.

It's possible that it's not that hot, depending on elevation, though it looks pretty hot. We don't have AC and there are usually only a couple of times every summer with three or so days that are uncomfortably hot. That said... it's perfectly rational to have a ceiling fan *and* AC.

Bob Ellison said...

What Big Mike said. "Near Death Valley" probably doesn't mean much. San Francisco is "near Death Valley" according to your average New Yorker. It's easy to forget how huge those western states are.

High deserts there can really be surprisingly cool in all seasons. Away from cities, even the hottest deserts drop 35 degrees each night during the summertime. This secluded spot may little or need of refrigerated air-conditioning.

PatCA said...

That's carrying minimalism too far.

Michael K said...

I expect they are not there much in summer. Fall, winter and spring would be nice.

Chip S. said...

Big Mike and Bob E. have it.

I'm a little surprised that so many conservatives who generally think people are competent to run their own lives were ready to assume that whoever built that house hadn't thought about heating and cooling factors.

mesquito said...

Does it have swamp coolers? A lot of houses in the southwest have no ac, but swamp coolers work just fine.

T J Sawyer said...

Only seven miles from the Shady Lady Brothel, per the NYT. That, in turn is just a few miles from Beatty.

Beatty climate summary here:
http://www.wrcc.dri.edu/cgi-bin/cliMAIN.pl?nvbeat

Average max temp is never over 100 and in a dry dry climate, that is not bad. Nothing like Madison at 99.

And, probably a seasonal home anyway.

Harsh Pencil said...

He'd be cooler if he wore shorts.

Palladian said...

Beautiful. Needs more stuff, though.

But you'd want to be careful out there... if this guy's wife finds him sitting at that laptop typing "Il mattino ha l'oro in bocca" over and over again, she'd better grab the kids and make sure the dune buggy isn't missing the distributor cap.

Jason (the commenter) said...

Althouse: The house has no air-conditioning; a ceiling fan hangs overhead.Exposed like that — with no shade — in a very hot desert?

But it's DRY heat Althouse. From what I've heard from non-Floridians, 150 degrees is perfectly fine as long as the humidity is low enough.

rhhardin said...

Random pieces of the internet seem to be down for me this evening, using two different ISPs; including graphics8.nytimes.com the slide show.

rhhardin said...

The heat would be hard on a dog, but instant sweat evaporation is huge cooling, given the slightest breeze, if you're an animal that sweats.

chrisnavin said...

As my friend just said:

"I bet Berlusconi could have some nice parties out there."

Maybe I need new friends.

ET1492 said...

Why did it cost so much to build? It's not very big or fancy. $290,000? I assume that doesn't include the property, which couldn't have cost much anyway.ds

Toshtu said...

I once had a horse that lived lived with me in a desert with no name, it was around Victorville, CA. The horse's name was Boris, after the spider.

Boris and I lived in the desert until Boris just simply went mad from the heat and demolished the neighbor's brand new 12-year-old pickup. It took him three days, that's how hot it was.


wv: ilizestr - Austrian for bar slut.

chrisnavin said...

Crack: Sweat lodges, crystal healers, master meditaters, pseudo-Buddhists, cultists, gurus and their floozies, assorted Sedona and Santa Fe flakes...self-flagellaters and flim-flammers...

Stay on 'em.

Weird things can happen to people in the desert.

Sebastian said...

sorry, but I think that is an ugly house.

ironrailsironweights said...

Only seven miles from the Shady Lady Brothel, per the NYT.

It's a good thing I'm not in the market for the Shady Lady's services, as it's 100% certain that none of their women would meet my standards.

And you all know what those standards are.

Peter

Freeman Hunt said...

To everyone saying that it doesn't need air conditioning:

I've been in many houses during the summer whose owners said that they didn't need air conditioning because of their special architecture or specific climate. All of those houses were uncomfortable.

People who aren't into air conditioning think the house feels fine at eighty-three degrees. No thanks.

Gabriel Hanna said...

I grew up in Eastern Washington's desert. If you don't have air conditioning you can get through the day with your windows shut, and then open them at night and cool the house down to 50.

No humidity makes a huge difference.

Meanwhile, here in Western Wisconsin every day has been miserable depsite it being only in 80s and 90s.

Michael K said...

I have a house in Tucson which has a somewhat similar climate. There is no way I would live there in summer without A/C. Dry heat is still heat. Over 100 degrees is intolerable, dry or no, without A/C. It's easier in the day time but at night is impossible to sleep.

Sixty Grit said...

Ugly ass house, but from my experience in Death Valley in the summer, I know that all one has to do is gain altitude and it gets much cooler.

Winter in Death Valley itself is very nice.

Michael said...

I have seen this house before on a site mocking hipsters and their affected lives. I think they are mocking the nyt with this story. Note the hipsters in the pictures and their crappy lifestyle furniture.

I would make the architect sleep here a few summer nights.

Michael said...

Www.unhappyhipsters.com

edutcher said...

Jason's pretty much right. If you're out of the sun, that most of the battle since there's no humidity.

The Blonde's oldest nephew lives in Mesa AZ and his house has overhead fans, but I never saw any AC.

Irene said...

Maybe the nights are cool enough to keep the house from overheating during the day.

It's like all those people who run the risk of freezing to death in the desert on episodes of "I Shouldn't Be Alive."


Exactly. With no ground cover, the heat doesn't stay after dark. Look at some old pictures of the Apache wars or even the Long Range Desert Group in WWII. Everybody's in overcoats.

Why does one of the captions highlight how the house features "utilitarean bathrooms." Aren't most bathrooms utilitarean?

Bet The Donald's isn't.

Or Little Zero's.

ironrailsironweights said...

Only seven miles from the Shady Lady Brothel, per the NYT.

It's a good thing I'm not in the market for the Shady Lady's services, as it's 100% certain that none of their women would meet my standards.


Bet they have at least one.

Or can have one ordered in.

For those discriminating customers who like a woman to be full-flavored.

MarkG said...

Freeman: People who aren't into air conditioning think the house feels fine at eighty-three degrees. No thanks.

Reminded me of this from The Onion.

I'm in Virgina with the thermostat set at 78. If it feels chilly, I put on a shirt.

Eric said...

Fred4Pres is right. That place is unoccupied during the summer. Death Valley can get pretty cold in the winter. I went camping there one winter and the water in my canteen froze solid overnight.

Andrea said...

I would totally live in that house. I've always wanted to go to the desert. I get the feeling I'd like it. All that lovely open space with no people. And I love low humidity. I grew up in Florida and now live in Virginia. I hate humidity.

themightypuck said...

What Gabriel Hanna says. I'm in Montana with no AC and while it gets hot in the day you just keep the windows shut. At 6000 feet it cools down quick at night. In Pasadena things were worse without AC (which I had but wouldn't turn on because I was cheap/broke). On the east coast it is different. A hot day is hot for 24 hours.

Also, that shit is definitely a winter home. My exes dad had a place in Idaho and Palm springs and would alternate.

Browndog said...

The desert plays with your mind...eventually-

and, it doesn't mind

Browndog said...

Blogger Unknown said...

Probably has an evaporative cooling system. Works well in low humidity environments, almost as comfortable as A/C. It's basically a damp pad with a fan blowing over it. The rapid evaporation of the water in the air creates a cooling effect.


It's called a swamp cooler.....for a reason-

Revenant said...

I think the shade of indoors, a light breeze from open windows and the ceiling fan, and a bit of acclimation would make it okay in summer as well.

When the temperature heads north of 110, breezes aren't so refreshing anymore.

William said...

An isolated house in the middle of nowhere on a lonely road leading to a brothel. I could see some things going wrong....The moral superiority of the ecosmug is an effective cooling device.

AST said...

The world is a sweat lodge.

Does anybody know why they named it Death Valley? Doesn't it have a chamber of commerce?

Schorsch said...

This is some crazy NYT Style/Dwell Magazine nonsense. I love the attempt at fashionable frugality. The furniture is Ikea, except for $1000 for 4 red chairs. They saved money on shipping by having an architect drive it out from San Francisco (architects work for lower hourly wages than UPS drivers?). No A/C means they only live there when it's cool, for certain. I live in the desert, and no cooling in the summer would be deadly. Why is the NYT so full of nonsense?

MarkG said...

I live in the desert, and no cooling in the summer would be deadly.

Did anyone ever live in the desert before we had electricity?

Capt. Schmoe said...

It is a cool house, however I suspect that it's occupancy rate will decline as the extremes of the desert become more evident to the owners.

A vacant house in the desert usually begins to receive bullet holes and vandalism once the tweakers figure out no one is around. The owners soon tire of the repairs and abandon the project.

The desert is littered with abandoned structures.

I give it eight years, ten max.

Terry said...

No sewer hookup. No water hookup. No water catchment tank that I can see. No grid power.
There is a reason why people pay more for these things.

Peter Hoh said...

Dry heat is a whole different thing than the humid heat that afflicts us in the midwest.

I lived a few weeks in a hot and dry part of India -- without A/C -- and was surprised by how well I tolerated it.

Peter Hoh said...

As for the architect delivering the furniture, my guess is that he wanted a chance to see the place.

Conserve Liberty said...

Note that on slides 9 (architectural plan), 14 and 15 there is a hot tub.

For God's sake, a HOT TUB!

Julie C said...

If you've never been to Death Valley, let me tell you to go before you are too old to travel. It is truly one of the most beautiful places on earth. But it's beauty is unearthly, really.

But I've only visited that part of California in the spring or late fall. From June to October it is way too hot to survive without air conditioning.

That would be a cool place to stay in the winter. The thunder storms during that time must be amazing.

Chip Ahoy said...

I'm familiar with that house. The article doesn't mention it, but when they say 'small,' they mean miniature. It's a miniature house for iguanas. <-- contains lies.

ironrailsironweights said...

architects work for lower hourly wages than UPS drivers?

Quite possibly.

Peter

virgil xenophon said...

That house is Obama's idea of eco-Paradise--for the rest of us..

Ralph L said...

It's a good thing I'm not in the market for the Shady Lady's services
At least they have a reason for shaving--crabs don't like it. Remember Das Boot?

Blue@9 said...

Yes, dry heat is different. 100+ in the desert feels fine if you're in the shade--way better than 80 in D.C. or Atlanta.

Peter said...

Heck, I lived thirty miles east of Yuma, Arizona without air conditioning back in the '70s. I wouldn't want to do it today, now that I'm old but people lived everywhere, long before electricity.

Don't Tread 2012 said...

Love this.

Love the desert, too. I have been in this desert a number of times to explore and take pictures.

Yes, it gets very hot during the day. You can adapt to the heat, however. At night, depending on the season, it can get downright cold as well.

I would buy this house.

Shanna said...

I love the bathroom!

Of course, no AC sounds like a nightmare right now (it was 113 yesterday) but the desert is different than the south and as long as the place is cool at night I would be ok. Also, they had an amazing dyson fan at Best Buy yesterday that feels like it would cool a room.

Pogo said...

It made me think of this song:
Little Fluffy Clouds by The Orb.

LarsPorsena said...

You're worried about AC? WTF! What about a water supply?

Pogo said...

What happens to AC deferred?

Do you dry up
Like a raisin in the sun?

Or fester like a sore—
And then run?

gerry said...

They may soon be Unhappy Hipsters!

Michael said...

Dont tread: make an offer on the house. You will own it before the weekend. The inhabitants of this house, the owners of this house i should say, use it to pose I bet they are done posing. You note the name of the famous real estate brokerage at the top of the sllide show. Give them a call. They probably have the listing.

Oligonicella said...

"It's beautiful, but unless you've devised some sort of spiritual practice out of enduring heat, why would anyone choose to live like that?"

Carbon footprint.

Michael said...

Carbon footprint, my ass. Do you know how far you have to drive to the grocery store? Hospital? Vet?

Dust Bunny Queen said...

1. They don't actually "live" there. They just visit once in a while.

2. In the much of the time, other than the height of summer it gets rather cool in the evening and at night.

3. These are just another example of pretentious, self absorbed, useless people.

Anneliese Dickman said...

You don't need air conditioning if you don't have humidity. Until I went away to school in Boston, I honestly did not know people put AC in their homes. I thought it was just for cars and movie theaters.

Oligonicella said...

Micheal -

Two word snark at our hostess's obsession.

Just recently she was against shorts in a NM church because "whatever happened to air conditioning?" yet still uses cf to explain some of the things she feels should be done.

She appears to have a hard time aligning the ideas of discomfort and saving the world from carbon.

As for the gas: Realistically, these people probably do very little driving outside of that going to town, whilst townspeople drive everywhere all the time - in separate cars. I'd bet they measure up pretty decently.

Peter said...

It seems possible that this house is off-grid. If it’s as isolated as it appears to be, it could cost a fortune to have the utility bring electric power to it. And if it’s off-grid, there wouldn’t be enough power to run an air conditioner.

If it gets cold at night then it should be possible to build a house with enough thermal mass to remain at at reasonable temperatures during the day. Especially with a blower to exhaust air from the house so as to pull in cold air at night. But it would be tough with no shade for the house, and all those huge windows (which do not appear to even have awnings).

Then again, perhaps this is just an architect house. Which, like an architect chair, is more a work of fine art than a practical artifact that can be expected to be fit for its apparent purpose.

And, this is NY Times House and Garden section. Which is concerned with style- the look, the colors, the textures, the arrangement of furniture inside the box.

Not boring stuff such as, “How hot does it actually get in there?” Or, “Where’s the water come from- do you have to have it trucked in?”

paul a'barge said...

clicked on the link. It doesn't say anything about "no air conditioning".

Gg SanDiego said...

Everyone living in the desert has fans IN ADDITION to air conditioner - helps save on those sky high energy bills.