At one with the desert

Merit Award: Custom house

This low-slung dwelling fits its sloping site like a saddle straddling a horse, yet still offers tall interiors that open to outside sitting areas.

Why it won: The U-shaped house celebrates its setting in numerous ways. It wraps around a private central courtyard, with sliding glass doors that let the living/dining room flow into the sheltered outdoor space. The main rooms face south; an overhanging roof protects the interior spaces from summer sun but allows low-angled winter sun to store its energy in the concrete floors. The house takes color cues from its desert surroundings: Concrete-block walls and colored concrete floors echo the subtle mauve gray of the landscape’s volcanic rhyolite stone.

Design: Wilson Peterson Architect, Tucson (520/884-1702)