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As production homes for the speculative market, Jewel Homes bridge the gap between custom and tract, offering a counterpoint to typical development in Las Vegas. Born of the desire to return the architect and the craftsman to residential design, each home reveals the hand of the artisan through design integrity, quality of craft, and an ethos that elevates the connection to the natural world. The semi-custom 1 and 2 story residences merge space, both interior-interior and interior-exterior, capitalizing on natural light and spatial openness, weaving and layering natural materials into simple, raw, and timeless spaces. Pocketing window walls throughout the homes allow the living spaces to spill into the outdoors, where exceptional attention to detail has been paid in the creation of lush outdoor rooms. Stargazer is Jewel Homes’ premier neighborhood of 8 homes, nestled into one of the southwest valley’s rural preservation neighborhoods. Each residence comprises a palette of thermally treated woods, lime plaster, steel, and locally sourced stone, ensuring little maintenance and continued beauty as the home ages. Perfectly balancing rustic and warm with simple and open, the restrained palette helps assemble the project into an easily recognized collection of modern homes.
Modernism evolved around the single-family home. From Mies’ worker housing competition to the Case Study program in LA, residential design was both the laboratory and the proving ground for architectural experimentation. The past several decades has seen the long decline of the architect’s involvement in production home design and, thus, this outlet of innovation reduced to a mere discussion, typically regarding cost, and often from an academic distance. As a result, homes today often suffer from a lack of craft, intention, emotion, and detail – favoring, instead, cost-effectiveness, speed, and ease of replicability. Architects are suffering, as well, from the loss of opportunity to experiment on a small scale, leading to a culture of safe (often repetitive) design. As a bridge between custom homes and tract homes, Jewel Homes looked to bring to market a compromise of sorts: a production home with the design integrity and craft of a custom home at a more economical price point. As designers, they have given us a chance to experiment, honing our values and exploring ideas at a small and iterative scale. The design process with Jewel Homes has been about craftmanship, quality, and the exploration of how to comfortably connect with nature and the outdoors in an environment known for its extreme weather – all of this, without exception, while maintaining the tight budget required of production housing. Working in tandem with the general contractor, aspects of the home’s design and construction were prioritized, such as the connection to the outdoors and landscaping, as well as the use of natural material and finishes. Opportunities to reduce costs often came in tandem with sustainable practices – the use of reclaimed wood throughout the home, sourcing material and labor locally, incorporating passive cooling strategies, and utilizing native plants. The craftsmen – many of whom would otherwise be subcontractors – are employed directly by the developer. This has allowed us to leverage them as a design resource, taking the opportunity to design and fabricate components ourselves whenever possible. As a result, the developer built each home at under $350/sf – roughly 1/4 the average price of a custom home in Las Vegas. There are nine base models for the homes. Each iteration of these models is different - some only slightly, while others dramatically – as each home is reconceptualized to respond to its neighborhood context. Designed for longevity and little maintenance, the material palette is reminiscent of the agricultural and mining structures that played such a large role in the history of Nevada – practical and built to endure. The homes are a palette of natural woods, lime plaster, raw steel, and locally sourced stone, ensuring little maintenance and continued beauty as they age. The success of the initial neighborhood has led to the planning and design of several more to follow, including two neighborhoods currently under construction. We see, however, the exploration of new ideas – ideas that can translate to a smaller, more equitable scale - as the project’s greatest success, returning the architect and the craftsman to residential production design.
Sustainable Design & Materials
Each residence comprises a palette of thermally treated natural woods, lime plaster, raw steel, and locally sourced stone, ensuring continued beauty as the home ages. Perfectly balancing rustic and warm with simple and open, the restrained palette helps assemble the project into an easily recognized collection of modern homes. Designed for longevity and little maintenance, the material palette is reminiscent of the agricultural and mining structures that played such a large role in the history of Nevada – practical and built to endure. We transitioned to a lime-based plaster rather than stucco, which absorbs CO2 from the atmosphere. This product is extremely durable, completely recyclable, and sustainably sourced. The exposed honed concrete slab floors on the ground level are not only beautiful and long wearing, they also work as a thermal mass, storing solar heat gain throughout the day and releasing it at night to maintain a stable interior temperature, enhancing comfort and reducing energy consumption. Attention was paid to, wherever possible, sourcing local, sustainable, and recycled finishes and surfaces. All interior wood is reclaimed teak from a San Diego company that boasts nearly zero waste. The marble blocks were quarry waste off-cuts. The long lasting and recyclable roof membrane used reflects 90% of solar heat load, reducing heat gain and energy consumption.
Green Building Designation(s)
Date of Completion
Stargazer Ridge Ct, Las Vegas, NV
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