Five examples of architecture in extremely dry climates

It might seem unbelievable, but even the most inhospitable regions of this planet are home to structures that can withstand extremely arid weather conditions.

Here are a few examples:


Shipwreck Lodge, Namibia 

Designed by Nina Maritz Architects, this is a luxury hotel complex located in Namibia’s National Park.  It features sustainable accommodation with minimal environmental impact in a place that experiences extreme weather conditions, i.e., a set of dunes which are home to several species of animals including lions, giraffes, and elephants.

The facilities include a central building, a common room, a kitchen, a laundry, and storerooms, as well as ten independent cabin connected to one another by a path that leads to the main structure.  It’s an intriguing and inspiring place.


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Una publicación compartida de PRIOR (@prior)


Desert Pearl Residence, Arizona (EEUU)

In the middle of the Arizonian desert, you’ll find the Desert Pearl, designed by Flynn Architecture & Design.  Its innovative design mitigates the effects of the extreme climate, with a curved roof providing a shady spot for parked cars and extending out to what will be a shed.

The structure is made from timber and a polycarbonate that allows light to filter in.  It also has a central courtyard around which the rooms of the house have been arranged.


La casa del desierto, Granada

OFIS Arquitectura and American glass producers Guardian Glass led this pioneering European project to design and build  a home built entirely of glass in the Gorafe desert in Granada, a place that experiences some of the harshest weather conditions in Europe.  The structure is environmentally friendly, energy efficient, and has a minimal ecological footprint.

Construction workshop in the Atacama desert (Chile)

It’s surprising to find a structure made of reeds in San Pedro de Atacama, northern Chile, AKA the driest desert in the world. Students of this technique from several different countries built this 10-metre-wide dome using 6,000 reeds from the area, more than ten kilometres of natural rope, 200 metres of jute cloth, one tonne of prickly pear sap, and 200 bags of plaster.  It comes from the minds of Canyaviva.


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Amangiri tourism complex in the Utah desert (USA) 

I-10 Studio designed the Amangiri tourism complex for the Aman Group chain of luxury hotels.  The idea was to make guests feel close to their surroundings.  Cosiness and comfort are the defining characteristics of this place.  Concrete, natural stone, a minimal colour palette, and timber help to create a homey vibe in the middle of the desert.


Would you like to read about other examples of architecture in extreme climates?  Take a look at a few that we selected in our articles about structures in icy climates and others in very humid locations.