This pair of gabled structures, built from weathering steel by Cohesion Studio, can be rented by visitors in the southern California desert.

Folly can be used by glampers in America’s Joshua Tree National Park, who are looking to experience an off-grid vacation without compromising modern conveniences.

Malek Alqadi and Hillary Flur of Cohesion Studio designed the project following Alqadi’s architectural research at The New School in New York City.

“I perceived [Folly] as a design paradigm, a small space with a big experience, modern and innovative while grounded within its environment,” said Alqadi. “I perceived [Folly] as a design paradigm, a small space with a big experience, modern and innovative while grounded within its environment,” said Alqadi. .

The buildings are located on an abandoned homestead among the barren sun-drenched terrain of Joshua Tree, which informed the architecture.

Locally salvaged steel wraps both of the structures, covering the exteriors walls and gabled roofs to create a cohesive, naturally weathered appearance.

In between the two volumes is a small patio, where an outdoor bath – made from a galvanised metal stock tank typically used for livestock – in sunk into the wooden deck. For privacy, large boulders create a visual barrier around the otherwise open space.

Within the larger volume is a dining area and kitchen, as well as a water closet and shower located near the entrance. A ladder leads up to a lofted space for sleeping area, complete with a skylight.

The smaller unit houses equipment and creates a storage area on the ground floor, while an open-air bedroom that offers views of the night sky is located above.

Interior details include plywood-covered walls and ceilings, steel pipes for ladders, and a black indoor shower with a large boulder.

“A stargazing bedroom with no ceiling, showers with exposed and expansive views… offer the exploitation of nature through a respectful approach,” said Alqadi.

A solar panel is located at one edge of the property, tilted on top of a metal post rather than mounted on one of the roofs. This provides the main energy source for heating and cooling the cabins.

“A key difference for me was taking the pedestrian-like solar panels off of the roof and allowing the cabin to breathe architecturally unfettered,” said Alqadi.

“There is also the scientific reasoning behind this decision,” he continued. “Solar panels need air circulation to breathe and remain cool. Placing them on a canopy, mimicking a tree-like structure allows the panels to breathe from all sides, keeping them cool so they are more efficient in energy production.”

Guests can monitor the cabins’ energy consumption and solar production, as well as control security and lighting, open the skylight, and set cooling and heating.

“This interactivity establishes a reference to what off-grid living is like, through automated creature-comforts that ‘break the ice’ to an off-grid lifestyle, without compromising the surrounding environment or guests’ expectations,” said Alqadi.