Acido Dorado

Acido Dorado

Gregory Han
Nov 6, 2009

Name: Acido Dorado
Location: Joshua Tree, California
Size: 1,350 square feet

About a year ago, we were contacted by architect Robert Stone about a project he had just completed out in Joshua Tree, an unique ebony washed pavilion specifically designed as a vacation destination with a "new desert aesthetic". He called it Rosa Muerta. But we just remember it as possibly the most unique place we've ever stayed in. During that short stay we noted hundreds of feet away Robert was busy working on another structure, a yin to Rosa Muerta's yang. Last weekend Robert invited us to be the first guest occupants of the recently completed Acido Dorado, a golden desert getaway...

Describing Acido Dorado can be an extremely complicated affair because at first glance it seems remarkably simple. The building is an amorphous chameleon of sorts, a minimalist pavilion whose appearance changes inside and out as the day progresses and light folds into the desert evening, reminding one of a beetle carapace: blending into the landscape one moment, then sparkling iridescent an hour later. 78% of the house can be opened entirely to the outdoors with sliding doors throughout, and every opportunity we had, we left these wide open. With mirrored walls, furnishings and ceiling everywhere, there happens a near hallucinatory experience in regards to perceived space, as everything is multiplied into infinity (making for some amusing "hide and seek" moments with Emily as I snapped photos). The 2 dimensional quality of photos only captures a tiny percentage of the light-energetic space as perceived in person, but each glance you find yourself staring at the world from a novel perspective. It's hard not to come to the conclusion the sense of the infinite reflected within is meant as an extension of the seemingly endless land and sky in the Joshua Tree desert.

But overanalyzing Acido Dorado would be a mistake, as its charm can be amazingly simple and comfortable. If one was to ask me what I liked about the home, I could only answer that it allowed me to be myself in solitude, quiet and introspection without any intrusion of "things". The possibility to do anything or nothing at all are afforded by a space that at first seems to provide the bare minimum, yet somehow proves to feel more comfortable than any luxury accommodation I've stayed at. Little touches like the choice of ornate bedroom light bulbs, welded butterfly and floral detailing on the exterior gates, and a smartly appointed fabric covered refrigerator keep the interior from slipping into the realm of austere, reflecting the minute beautiful details one often discovers while wandering the landscape around Joshua Tree.

Our favorite memory of Acido Dorado was turning off all the lights and allowing the moon to paint the room with a faint pastel glow, plugging in our iPod into the home's sound system and then drowning ourselves into the atmospheric Mysterious Skin soundtrack that echoed throughout the house with cinematic effect. There were quite a few moments listening to music and staring at ourselves in the ceiling that we couldn't decide whether we felt like we were drifting into outer space or sinking to the deepest depths of the ocean. And nary a drop of alcohol or any other recreational stimulant was involved to reach this state!

When prodded a bit about his philosophy behind building Acido Dorado, Robert shared,

"My goal with the place is to let a community of people grow around it who sort of make it theirs. That really seems to be happening, and more and more people are coming out here who really appreciate the place for what it is and what they can make of their time here. Really, the place is completed by the people that stay there. Someday the hype will die down and all I will have is these people that really love the place coming back, bringing friends, and supporting it just because they are glad something like this can exist in the world."

Acido Dorado isn't for everyone. If you're looking for a pampered boutique hotel experience, a few notable amenities are available (a relaxing jacuzzi and outdoor fire pit both make for wonderful evening relaxation spots and a powerful heating system keeps the desert chill at bay), but overall one is left with a sense that he or she is here to shed away the trappings of luxury to find comfort in the simple.

The furnishings are spartan in layout, but none uncomfortable (I slept better and deeper than I've anywhere in the last several years, thanks to the new bed, bedding and absolute quiet); a stocked kitchen provided us with all the tools to cook our own dinners each evening. If you're squeamish about flora and fauna or find the elements intrusive, you're best served detouring over to Palm Springs where plenty of resorts can accommodate that vacation style. But if you're looking for architecture as a reflection of place and feeling, Acido Dorado may easily become your new favorite secret desert getaway destination as it has immediately become for us. The building is both a frame and getway to everything we love out in Joshua Tree and we feel extremely fortunate to have stayed even a short while inside its golden walls. We hope a few of you out there have the pleasure of following suit and reporting back your experiences here.

*Special thanks to Robert Stone.

Other posts about Rosa Muerta:

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