Living with boulders

Phoenix house with boulder

Frank Lloyd Wright built Fallingwater on a boulder-covered site, but the giant rocks beneath and around that well-known house are not nearly so graphic or madly visible as they are in these houses. Some of these structures were deliberately built on or around boulders, whether for aesthetics, site preservation, or protection; others incorporated the rocks simply because the rocks could not be moved from the only available building spot. Portugal and Spain are full of boulder architecture, and so are many erratic-strewn desert regions where imposing rocks can provide shelter from the sun or wind. In colder climates where rock expands and contracts with the seasons, much of this architecture is not possible, but if I could get a boulder inside my living room, I would. The house above is in Phoenix; the three photos directly below show architect Albert Frey’s own house in Palm Springs (two of those photos have appeared here before; I keep going back to them).

Albert Frey, Frey House, Palm Desert

Frey House, photo by Julius Shulman

Frey Residence, Palm Springs, 1965

Below, in order: Klein Aus Vista in Namibia, by iciblancheneige; Stone house in Fafe, Portugal, by Jsome1; Rock House, Koh Samui, Thailand, by msharkie; house in boulder-strewn Monsanto, Portugal, by Txumu; house at Cliff Dwellers, Arizona, by davduf; Hairy Bobbo’s handcarved house, 18th C hermitage in Yorkshire, by Nekoglyph. Click on each photo for more information.

The Boulder: our home for two nights

Stone house revisited

Ko Samui_Tamarind Resort_Villa2

monsanto house

Cliff Dwellers, Arizona

Hairy Bobbo's house by Nekoglyph

5 comments on "Living with boulders"

  1. Those classic Shulman photos of the Frey House are brilliant, but you really don’t get a sense of how small that house is unless you’ve visited it in person. I’d highly recommend you do that if you get a chance. It’s open for tours occasionally. Despite its diminutive size, it’s such a wonderful space. I could sit there and sip cocktails for hours, watching the sunlight change over the valley.

    1. I too would love to visit the Frey house, preferably for cocktails. It does inspire that kind of fantasy. And it does seem small – the bed is on the other side of the living room divider – but that seems okay. PS. I’d like to visit all of these boulder houses.

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