Modernism Week Featured Home: Axiom Desert House

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Here’s what you need to know about this year’s Modernism Week Featured Home: Axiom Desert House.

Turkel Design is the name, and residential design is their game. Joel and Meelena Turkel have dedicated their practice to creating progressively designed systems-built homes using high-quality materials and precision fabrication. We sat with the creative duo to learn more about their future family home – Axiom Desert House, a 2,110-square-foot modern prefab – which will be debuting during Modernism Week with tours, two talks, and a special cocktail event.

Tell us about the home!

Turkel Design creates architecturally driven systems-built homes that can be delivered and assembled on sites anywhere. We have a series of 11 designs called the Axiom Series, and Axiom Desert House is a modified version of our Axiom 2110.

This is our family home as well as a Living Lab for Turkel Design – meaning that we are using this project to advance what we are doing in our practice. We think of this home as our modern oasis – it’s a three-bedroom, three-bathroom home with an open plan that includes a main great room and an indoor/outdoor flow to the courtyard, lanai and pool.

The home will be complete in January 2019 and is making its debut at Modernism Week!

What drew you to this property? 

The incredible views, the quiet neighborhood, and its proximity to town. When Joel and I were scouting the site and saw its incredible views of the surrounding mountains, we stood in place and essentially designed a space that would capture those views. We saw the importance of a design that would offer that magnificent mountainscape – not just when you’re outside, but from almost every room in the house.

Why did you choose to build in Palm Springs, specifically?

We’ve been coming here for for 14 years, we really love it. It’s a great place for all of the generations of our family to meet and spend time together so now that we’ve moved here, we plan to do a lot more of that!

Palm Springs also has a long history of architects trying new things, and we’re inspired by that. This climate allows for trying things that can’t be done elsewhere – for example, here we can have zero threshold doors, which further blurs the line between indoors and out. At the same time, because there’s so much year-round sun, we needed deep overhangs, so engineering the roof planes to be thin and elegant, while resisting wind loads was a real challenge.

And, because of the abundant sun, the house is net-zero energy through photovoltaic panels – something we’re really dedicated to pursuing in our practice.

Why did you choose to name the home “Axiom Desert House”?

The Axiom Series of homes is a collection of eleven pre-engineered home designs that are manufactured offsite and shipped worldwide for rapid assembly on virtually any site. We called the series of homes Axiom because they extensively employ design features and principles that we truly believe in and which are axiomatic to our way of thinking.

Axiom Desert House is one of these homes which has been designed specifically for use in a climate like Palm Springs. It’s also our own modern oasis and family home – the first time we are turning the process we’ve been refining over the past decade on ourselves. 

What were some highlights of the design process?

Using the home as a Living Lab allowed us to make certain finishing and site design decisions in real time while building. We were able to make adjustments, test proportions, evaluate relationships and adjacencies.

We have also been able to bring together the very best design features, spaces and proportions that we have been exploring in our other work for over a decade. And, we were able to experiment with some new materials and products in ways that we would not have risked in a client’s home. A highlight is that we were able to learn a great deal that we are already applying to current projects.

What were some challenges of the design process?

We met the challenge of maximizing a small buildable area while retaining a large portion of the site for the courtyard. When you have a project that is also an exploration, you want to do a lot, but you can’t do it all.

What is your favorite feature of the home?

The space – how the courtyard becomes part of the great room, with a seamless boundary between the two. Because of the Lift and Slide doors, generously supplied by Marvin, we’re able to open the space completely.

And how we’re going to live in the space – we’re essentially going to live outdoors, eating outside or in the shade of the great room, while feeling as though we’re outdoors.

What are some of your design influences?

Modernism in general, but specifically early California Post-and-Beam modernism and excellent material-driven design. Also, Scandinavian and Pacific Northwestern Modern. Designers we love: Craig Ellwood, Poul Kjaerholm, Alvar Aalto, William Berkes, Carl Koch, A. Quincy Jones, Don Wexler, Ray and Charles Eames, Hans Wegner.

Why should Modernism Week guests visit the Axiom Desert House during Modernism Week?

We want people to come see and feel what happens when you take the attributes and features of wonderful modern design, and bring them up to date to today’s building codes and contemporary dwelling expectations.

This house is replicable in CA – and with some adjustments, it can be built anywhere.

We’re looking forward to having people experience the space, the light, and how all of the amazing products our partners have provided complement the architecture and the overall experience of Axiom Desert House.

Final thoughts?

In our practice, we are constantly challenging the notion of what a home should be. Axiom Desert House is a prefabricated home made almost entirely of engineered materials; it’s a fossil-fuel-free and net-zero energy home. The amazing furniture and systems provided by Resource Furniture are built-in pieces that allow spaces to serve multiple purposes. Through efficiency and flexibility of design, we were able to build less but live more.

Special Note: Turkel Design will be offering a private stay at Axiom Desert House to one happy home tour attendee and a guest of his or her choice! Make sure to share your name and email address with the Turkel Design team for a chance to experience the home on a whole new level.

Get tickets for these events with the creators of the Axiom Desert House during Modernism Week:

Photos courtesy of Turkel Design.
Special thanks to the Axiom Desert House sponsors for making the Modernism Week Featured Home: Axiom Desert House possibleResource FurnitureMarvinCorian, Dacor, CEADESIGN, Dunn-Edwards, Angela Adams, Karcher Design, The Modern Fan Co., Thermalwood Canada, Cerno, AT-AROMA, Fyrn, BC Timber Frame, Teserra Outdoors, Hot Purple Energy, Phantom Screens, Cavity Sliders USA, Eklipse Architectural Lighting