Robert Stone’s Golden Acido Dorado in Joshua Tree California by Danny Hudson

On 5-acres of high desert in Southeastern California, the golden yellows of the landscape are continued and reflected in ‘Acido Dorado’, a vacation home designed by Los Angeles-based architect Robert Stone:

“My work looks different because I think differently about architecture. It is designed for a different “function” – to engage the cultural context on a conceptual level. for the last century up to and including the present avant-garde, architecture has strived toward abstraction – focusing on shape and form while suppressing the cultural meaning that we attach to things. It has followed an old idea of what sculpture is and how it functions, while other artistic disciplines (including sculpture) moved beyond this long ago consider conceptualism, performance, representation and figuration, engaging “meaning” by any means necessary.  I am simply pushing forward architecture in that direction, in the way i know how. i hope there are others.”

Taking a unique approach to the design process, the one story structure is almost a mirror of its surroundings, interpreted in it’s own way. reflections present throughout the project both literally and metaphorically offer a new experience and meaning to the home in the arid climate. from glass-like reflecting pools to opposing parallel mirrors, mirrored ceilings, and the peculiar use of materials and colors, the project not only serves as a backdrop in which the user can perform daily activities but also responds to the user and seems to engage in a deeper dialogue with a sense of time and place- with a distinct message.

“So this means that rather than a collection of boxes and planes, I use a wider palette and combine ideas and materials into a poetic whole that gets its meaning not from the architect but from the world around it. it doesn’t pretend to be a big “timeless” abstract sculpture. It is designed to engage current fashion, art, its time and cultural context, to modify it and question it- then reflect it back charged with different meaning. this isn’t the old argument about symbolism or ornament – it’s deeper than that. it is about considering things in their full conceptual circumstances and finding the meaning there.”

The design reinterprets the classical elements of wall, roof, and floor, manifested through different materials. the vertical envelopes are made of hollowed concrete block creating a perfectly permeable yet room-bounding partition, embedded with the archetypal heart and rose. sections of opaque blocks provide the necessary privacy in the bedrooms from the external world. the floor plane sinks into and out of the ground, forming a sort of internal stepped courtyard with a pool and built-in planters, while the canopy floats gracefully above the entire construction moderating the amount of light let into the spaces beneath.

“The house sits in the middle of a natural environment but it confidently projects the opposite of nature- a “cultured” meaning. some of the strongest elements here are things that are so loaded with cultural connotations that they are impossible to figure into architecture as we have defined it for so many years.  Gold is impossible to separate from its connotations and consider abstractly- same with flowers and the heart. I came up through the same architectural education and practice as everyone else, so I am well aware that my aesthetic vocabulary is “different” – but with it I can do things that I could not do with abstract sculptural minimalism.”

“Acido Dorado is designed with a series of meshed ideas that constantly modify each other- so it never really settles into a static statement. The dead flowers are representational of a living thing, but that kind of romantic and lush flora is relentlessly contrasted with the real (but dead) desert surrounding. the mirrors reflect the emptiness of the desert with their own infinite space, and their glass is the same material and chemistry as the glittering silica sand that they reflect. Gold is a color, a material, and an idea. all of these elements fold in on each other conceptually which makes for a certain “unreality” to the place as these associations modify each other continuously. I am pursuing ideas about time, death, reality and hallucination  and I develop these unusual aesthetics to get us there. .  to get to “meaning” by any means necessary.”