TSG Foundation | Center for Spiritual Development
The site is situated on an 11-acre parcel in the Sonoran Desert surrounded by the scenic mountains of north Scottsdale, Carefree, and Cave Creek.
The overarching design goals were to merge the science of the Living Building Challenge with spirituality while successfully incorporating the immediate environment to coexist harmoniously with the natural landscape and incorporating sustainability in the build.
On the exterior, regional, and natural materials have been selected to withstand the harsh desert environment and mimic the plants and wildlife native to the area. The diamond-shaped zinc tiles used on exterior walls take biophilic inspiration from the region’s native rattlesnake. Zinc tiles were also selected for their recyclability, should they ever need to be replaced, and manufacturing zinc is significantly less harmful to the environment when produced—compared to many other metals used in construction.
The naturally occurring form of the saguaro cactus’ ribs are known to function as a cooling mechanism that creates pockets of cooler, shaded air. This form of the building’s west facing masonry exterior will aid in cooling the building with no use of additional energy, contributing to one of the project’s passive energy strategies. The significant soffit overhangs create a shadow line on the large glazing, preventing direct sunlight hitting them.
A signature focal point of the design is a large, rammed earth wall that uses the ancient building technique of compacting soil (extracted from the site) and other aggregate, using pneumatic tampers to create a structurally sound wall. The construction of a rammed earth wall of this size required testing the process with a smaller mock-up version and great precision.
Through the building’s passive and active energy strategies, the Foundation is striving to be a Net Zero Energy and Petal Certified–building through the Living Building Challenge.