Whole Life Magazine

April/May 2013

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Page 27 of 43

RAdicAL ARcHitEctURE T for a Sustainable Future rex Beasley's innovative structure can survive an apocalypse HE HIGH MOJAVE DESERT HAS LONG BEEN KNOWN AS AN INCUBATOR FOR AVANT-GARDE architecture, attracting design visionaries who feel free to indulge their wildest fantasies in the wide-open spaces it provides. There are the hobbit-like Bonita Domes beehive structures in Joshua Tree, inspired by designs created by architect Nader Kahlili at the Cal Earth Institute. There is the EcoTechDesign prototype hybrid house, also known as the Tim Palen Studio at Shadow Mountain, an off the grid, repurposed shipping container home. There is Robert Stone's Acido Dorado house, a high-fashion hideaway it for James Bond, complete with gold-mirrored ceilings and heart-shaped concrete-block cutout. Not to mention Lloyd Russell's Rimrock Ranch, shaded by a steel-framed canopy, and the off-grid, minimalist iT House, a prefab structure named one of the Best Homes in America by Dwell magazine. These are all well documented. By Caroline ryder whose personal philosophy blends elements of conservative libertarianism with community-minded feminism. The home, which he has been building for two years, affords the owner the freedom to move rooms from inside to outside on hydraulic beds "in order to conserve and maximize use of space," says Beasley. It also has a space age-ish ability to harvest and reuse energy: hydronic cooling systems that harvest water naturally cooled during the night to power AC during the day, hydronic heating that provides unlimited free hot water, and self-cleaning aquaponic ponds and waterfalls that supply clean drinking water. "I was disgusted with the wasteful excesses of a spoiled society," says Beasley, explaining the origins of his vision. "At least if the world falls apart, my homes keep on rolling on, with heat and cooling until the end of time." If FountainHead delivers all that it promises, you may want to note the coordinates of this post-apocalyptic outpost. But Beasley's approach has made him somewhat of a controversial igure among some builders and architects. He openly scoffs at LEED regulations (see post at www.wholelifemagazine.com for details) and criticizes the prevailing architectural culture for being "male-based, resistant to change, and dogmatic." Like many experimental designers, he's frustrated at the establishment's inherent snobbery. Which is why the desert is perfect for an inventor like Beasley, whose ideas may be too weird, too good, too untested or too ahead of the curve for some of his peers. Fortunately, gaining approval has never been one of this architect's main goals in life. He is very proud of FountainHead's solarpowered artesian well, 360 feet deep with water at 165 feet, and totally off the grid. "This well draws from robust aquifers fed by the San Gorgonio snowpack and delivers water to a 2500 gallon holding tank," he explains. "The tank is housed in its own solar shed. Most wells are 220 volt systems powered by the local utility company. If there A moveable living room at the architect's current residence, Mohave House, is the prototype for FountainHead. 28 Photos: Courtesy, Rex Beasley Completely undocumented, and among the most eccentric and ambitious homes being built in the high desert, is environmental designer Rex Beasley's FountainHead. Inspired by the utopian ideals of Buckminster Fuller (whom Beasley once met) and named for staunch individualist Ayn Rand's controversial novel, the home rises out of the Morongo Valley landscape just north of Palm Springs. Built on a sprawling 15-acres, not only is the home way off the grid, it's also way, way off the traditional Architectural Digest beaten path, with Beasley exploring unorthodox—some might say renegade—greenbuilding technologies that slash building costs and turn conventional design philosophies on their heads. The angular, avant garde aesthetic goes against the grain of contemporary building trends and leaves the rare passerby either enamored or confused. Same goes for Beasley himself, a force of nature wholelifetimesmagazine.com RexBeasley.indd 28 3/26/13 4:03 PM

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