Founded in Tucson, Arizona in 1984 by architect/builder, Paul Weiner,
DesignBuild Collaborative has been passionately committed to developing
projects that reflect the native beauty, climate, geological
environment and culture of the region. Through a thoughtful integration
of locally occurring native materials, including rammed earth, adobe,
scoria, native stone, masonry, oxidized steel, weathered concrete and
timber, and an award winning design expertise in sustainable water and
energy technologies, DBC has been and remains committed to the creation
of meaningful built environments intended to reinforce personal well-being.
selected materials and technologies:
Rammed Earth is earth excavated from the building site that is
reinforced with a small amount of dry Portland cement,
moistened, and then placed into forms to develop a bold and timeless
building envelope or element.
We have found no substitute for the aged, grounding and visceral
quality of this native material.
Take away the Portland cement and the pneumatic tampers and this
technology has been used for thousands of years throughout the world in
Beyond the innate beauty of this material, its shear mass creates a thermal storage system
that acts to mitigate temperature swings to create a clean and ultra comfortable source of heating
and cooling for indoor space.
As with Rammed Earth, this locally excavated material is wet to a greater degree and placed into small unit
forms. The resultant sun dried blocks are placed as they have been for thousands of years, into mortar of the
same material make up as the blocks, and sculpted into walls of extraordinary beauty. The color, texture,
familiarity and antiquity of this material seem to deeply engage the human spirit. May this have something to
do with the human effort required to place the material? As with many things in life, this intention and vision
can be felt in the final product.
As architects moving towards the realization of sustainable work it
is important to treat the concept as something other than a
technological layer. Sustainability speaks not just about energy and
resources but also about how people inhabit and live within the spaces.
While the quantitative means of analysis are very important we must not
forget about the qualitative aspects which can and should inspire the
buildings inhabitants to take ownership of not only the building but
also of the concept of sustainability. The strategies employed should
be legible but well integrated into the form, structure and material
allowing the architecture to maintain its character while meeting
The desert is a unique environment that calls for a unique response when intervening with a built
object. With the exception of the earthen materials that we discuss on this website, there are few stand
alone building envelope materials that naturally relate to the desert landscape in a way that suggests
belonging. Even the engaging plasters can appear too monotonous and thus foreign, unless thoughtfully
composed with other more grounded materials. Our practice believes in this critical concept of belonging
when designing built environments in an arid zone devoid of dense plant material, and it is for this reason that
we often develop a mixed medium response as we take each specific site into account during our design
For more info
Desert House design