One of the projects Dean Larkin is currently excited about is a group of 4 homes in the high desert of Palm Springs, near the Joshua Tree National Park area. The homes will be relatively small compared to many of Dean Larkin Designs’ projects, at between 2,000 and 3,000 square feet. The first home, being called the “Faith project” due to its street location will be a little over 2,000 square feet.
One of the challenges of the project is that the area is home to many, many Joshua trees. The trees are native to the area and they are protected. In fact, nothing can be built within a 10-foot diameter around the trees. Dean’s response to this stricture has been to configure the homes in such a way as to include the trees in the landscape.
According to Dean, “There are protected trees in LA: oak, sycamore, black walnut, so it is common. But in LA they aren’t EVERYWHERE. Yucca trees ARE everywhere and they live for a couple thousand years. Which is how they got their name. So it is good stewardship to try to take care of them.”
The first of the homes is the Faith project, aptly named as the property is located on Faith Street. The project is also being playfully called “Flight of Fancy” because of its inspiration, the Yucca moth. The area is called the Yucca Valley, and the native Joshua trees have a symbiotic relationship with the Yucca moth. The moths lay their eggs in the flowers of the trees, and are responsible for propagating the Joshua trees.
Architects who design these opulent, luxurious homes take advantage of the environment to maximize outdoor living and the home’s expansive views. One such neighborhood is the Bird Streets.
From an aerial view, the yucca moth inspiration is obvious. The home is a V-shape, with two wings. One contains public rooms, and one houses the bedrooms. They open out to the pool area, which represents the tail of the moth. On the street side, at the tip of the V, is a curved fence around a courtyard, which represents the curving arms of the moth. The home will have round windows that are inspired by the moth eggs. Dean says the home design is simple, but with high architecture applied. The details will make this home something special.
Consider the curved wall, for example. Dean explains, “The wall is not supposed to be solid, but a little see-through. Kind of like a veil toward the street, to filter the street. And that sort of sets the mood. The equivalent of a Spanish courtyard, once you pass the gate it changes the mood.”
Dean elaborates, “Palm Springs is a haven for mid-century architecture and part of what you see a lot in midcentury Palm Springs architecture is called textile block walls. For textile block walls they take a concrete block wall, and it’s done in a geometric pattern. So it’s not solid, and they create these screen walls. The round wall started with that kind of inspiration of, ‘well let’s tip our hat to those concrete screen walls in Palm Springs.’”