The online post includes Sex Pistols and Tarantino clips that I think really enhance the read, see it here-


Here is the text by Fabrizio Gallanti-

At first sight deserts look empty, pure and intact. But the freedom they enjoy from the stricter controls imposed on cities and “colonized” places really means that they are areas where the remnants of our civilization accumulate, the weirdest of social and cultural experiments are carried out, and widely differing images and imagery clash and interbreed in the glaring sunlight.

America’s deserts in particular are ones where this untidy otherness is most evident – the most extreme military experiments, introverted communities of obsessive fanatics. These deserts are places that many people escape to and then isolate themselves in. They are also places where relics of modernity accumulate, lime-encrusted surfaces where the weirdest mirages settle over time.

Not long ago Enzo Mari, Giovanna Silva and Gianluigi Recuperati travelled through California, Nevada and Arizona searching for relics of modernity dumped among the rocks, sand and dust. In “Scenes in America Deserta”, Reyner Banham’s vision was more naturalistic and sublime, though punctuated by encounters with human architecture and activity (Frank Lloyd Wright, Paolo Soleri). The desert’s visual richness and infinitude has appealed most of all to filmmakers – the Coen brothers, Wim Wenders, Michelangelo Antonioni, David Lynch and others, not to mention hundreds of westerns. Though technically in Mexico, the “Titty Twister” strip club in Robert Rodriguez and Quentin Tarantino’s “From Dusk till Dawn” typifies the hallucinatory character of the American desert.

This is why Robert Stone’s designs epitomize the kind of aesthetic fusion made possible precisely because there are no traditional and contextual constraints. Stone is building a set of week-end houses called Pretty Vacant Properties a short distance from the Joshua Tree national park in California. Commercially speaking, the development is similar to the house in Vals: you rent an “extreme” landscape along with visually unusual house fitted with all mod cons (in Vals the landscape is more normal and the house more original; in the desert it’s the other way round). To date Stone has completed two houses: “Rosa Muerta”, a dark-punk apparition under a scorching sun, and “Acido Dorado”, a golden dream perhaps inspired by the LSD that folks quaffed by the gallon in the psychedelic years. The story so far seems to be born out by Stone’s brief account of why this precise spot was chosen.

“Joshua Tree also has a storied history as a rock and roll retreat and spiritual tabula rasa. If you are tuned in you will also see glimpses of a d.i.y. cultural utopia that is a hotbed of electronic folk music, rock and roll rebirth, new age naivete, military-industrial complexities, burnouts, high art, low art, and everything in-between. Whatever you find out here, whether it is amazingly good or so wrong it’s right . . .  it was at least somebody’s godhead at some point in time.”

“Rosa Muerta” has been widely reviewed (most recently in ArchDaily). “Acido Dorado” has been used for fashion shoots but also deserves to be assessed as architecture.

The house blends the layout of Californian 1950-60s modernist houses with sensitive use of rough-and-ready DIY-type materials – the concrete blocks in the yard are similar to those used for all low-cost building in California and Mexico. The house is designed to be thrown wide open – sliding walls eliminate all distinctions between inside and outside – and a number of small indoor atriums planted with ocotillos further accentuate the “geographical” ethos. Decoratively speaking, the use of colour and floral wrought-ironwork evokes Mexican imagery, tattoos and rock culture. There is also a heart set in the façade (how many architects would have the courage to do that?). The slick interiors and furnishings draw on the ideals of modernist comfort and withdrawal from the world sometimes associated with sophisticated bachelordom. All in all it’s an intriguing house, part abandoned bunker and part Palm Springs villa. “Pretty Vacant” is also the title of a Sex Pistols song.