The Ranch Mine Canal House:

The bare visual graphics of The Ranch Mine’s Canal House symbolise many things: the general European references to gabled forms in architecture; the stark beauty and patterns of Arizona’s mountainous desert regions as well as the historic Spanish missions in Southern Arizona.  As a corollary Canal House is an enclosure echoing that of a small community protected behind the walls of the mission: this notion anticipates the home as a sanctuary from the fast paced urban environment in which the majority of us live; it becomes a metaphor for both transition and tranquillity.

The story behind The Ranch Mine’s motivation is at once original and heart warming, “We specialize in designing homes for people with the pioneer spirit, the dreamers and seekers who see home as more than just a house. Our clients see home as a place that roots you in your community, provokes curiosity and exploration, and emboldens you to do more of what you love.”  The idea of Canal House encapsulates a clear vision unencumbered by trends while staying within the gambit of Arizona’s traditional architecture.

The Ranch Mine’s vision is further incorporated in the type and use of materials where the natural world is referenced literally and by association; to take two examples both the copper sink and the rusted hood are key elements in the interiors and both are subject to nature’s vicissitudes.  While the simple striking symmetries imply a sense of order they work also as symbols of distilled expectations and a lifestyle in touch with nature.

Although the entry courtyard connects the house conceptually to Arizona’s mission architecture, the central courtyard is a paean to modern life – welcoming spacious lawn, a sculptural and social focal point in the outdoor fireplace and art inspired details.  It is clear this is a house designed and made from the heart; inherent in all aspects is a sense that if you are going to expend time, energy and good money on a project of importance you need to invest it with authority; Canal House is so invested because it is inspired by the past, is firmly of the present and speaks to the future.  It speaks to the future as a unique genre within Arizona’s residential architecture but also in terms of sustainable practice.

The house precinct is a beautiful compound, the house itself a distinct authentic object within its surrounds.  Note the absence of decorative features, rather the emphasis is on quality natural and man-made materials which have an innate beauty of their own.  The kitchen’s copper sink will age gracefully; the punctured black steel awning provides light and dappled shade but also stunning patterns as the sun moves from east to west during the day.  The outdoor furnace is both a sculptural form in itself and a pragmatic addition – outside under the stars in the Arizonian desert; what could be more perfect?  In spite of the apparent simplicity there is a lot going on; Canal House manifests an holistic design program where an aesthetic has evolved defined by a bigger picture.

The Ranch Mine understands how architecture continues the dialogue with but also influences a sense of place whilst at the same time influencing and enriching individual lives by simple living.

All images: Roehner + Ryan.

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