Desert Pyramid Home Concept

I drew this for fun, and it’s not a tiny house. I wanted to explore designing an off-grid pyramid home in the desert. In many ways it’s a fairly normal American home. It has 3 bedrooms, 3 bathrooms, two levels, and a patio with a pool, but the shape of a pyramid is dramatic and demands to be treated differently.

The view walking toward the pyramid from the driveway.

I didn’t want to poke a hole in the side of the pyramid for a front door. I wanted to make entering the pyramid a bit more of an adventure, so I chose to create a dramatic subterranean entrance that felt like a journey. To enter the pyramid you must first walk toward it, then around it, and view it from three sides. Once you’ve taken in it’s presence, you must descend through a glass hatch covered staircase.

The glass hatch opens. Decent the staircase to the exterior front door.

From the bottom of the staircase you pass under the long narrow glass bottomed swimming pool where you’ll find the interior front door of the home.

Walk below the glass bottomed lap pool to the interior front door.

Beyond this door you climb a short dark concrete staircase and finally find yourself on the lower level.

Once through the interior front door you climb a dark stairwell up onto the lower level. The the right is a door to a basement.

On the lower level there’s a kitchen, dining room, three bedrooms, two bathrooms, and a laundry/utility room.

Your first view upon entering the lower level is the kitchen and dining room.
View toward stairs to the upper level from the dining room.

The lower living level is windowless except for glass blocks in the ceiling that also form part of the floor of the upper level. Natural light passes through these glass blocks as well as through the stairwell opening to the upper level.

The upper level is open with a staircase in the center.

Climbing the stairs to the upper level you turn 180-degrees and arrive in a glass and concrete pyramid shaped room with four giant pyramid windows. In the center of the room is the U-shaped staircase you just climbed. On each of the four walls is minimalist modern furniture and excellent views of the surrounding desert. An excellent place to host a guests.

Stairs down to the lower level and the interior front door.
There’s plenty of space for ample seating and art.
Along the north wall are two chairs.
At nights the light from the lower level shines through the glass blocks embedded in the floor.

Truth be told, entering this pyramid wouldn’t be easy or convenient, and may become an annoyance to the occupants. But for those who embrace the ritual value of the journey – passing into the pyramid may become a valued trade-off to the day-to-day convenience of a common door.

View of exterior patios, pool, and entry hatch. Notice the curb around the base of the pyramid that collects rainwater into two large underground tanks that flank the pool.

Mechanically speaking the pyramid itself would double as a rainwater collection surface catching runoff around its edge and channeling it into underground storage tanks that flank the pool. A photovoltaic solar array would need to be located nearby to power this desert home.

The wall construction should be a combination of concrete and foam, so that the thermal mass of the concrete keeps the interior consistent without the need for much mechanical intervention.

The exterior of the pyramid must be as smooth as possible, almost polished like a mirror. The glass should be semi transparent but mostly reflective to help keep the interior cool on sunny days.

View of pyramid at night from the closed entry hatch.

The bedrooms receive natural daylight though the glass blocks in the floor above. The master bedroom has its own bathroom.

Master Bedroom

The master bathroom has a shower, tub, toilet and sink. The bathroom also receive natural light from the glass blocks in the floor above.

Master Bath

The bedrooms are typical in size and each bedroom has a walk-in closet.

Bedroom
Bedroom

The second bathroom is just off the staircase landing.

Second Bath
Upper Level Floor Plan
Lower Level Floor Plan

This was a fun exploration for my imagination. It’s not a practical house, but then if that was the goal, something the shape of a box would be more effective. A pyramid requires some dramatic solutions and nothing that detracts from the statement it would make.

Road Trip Jeep Hauling Tiny House Concept

Drive your Jeep right up onto the 11′ 9″ deep porch when ready to hit the road.

This is a design idea I’ve been playing with a lot lately. Most tiny houses don’t travel well because they are heavy, brick-shaped, and built to maximize the building envelope defined by the size limitations of 8.5-feet wide and 13.5′-tall. So most tiny houses ride low, drag their butts on steep driveways, and are not usually very aerodynamic. This design is different.

A dramatic entrance welcomes you home. The porch surface would be a steel grate strong enough for a 4,000-pound Jeep, would scrape the mud off your boots, and would never collect water.
Your boondocking home is quickly setup and you’re now ready to explore the remote backwoods in your Jeep. Your giant RAM 3500 is 4-wheel-drive too, but build for highway towing. (Note to Jeep lovers… I couldn’t find a good JK or JL SketchUp drawing to add to my tiny house drawing so had to settle for this YJ. Nothing against YJs. except for the square headlights. LOL)

I wanted to imagine a tiny house that was built to travel and explore, so I started with the trailer design. This trailer would have a 40-foot trailer bed, an 8-foot gooseneck, dual tandem wheels, 12,000-pound axles, trailer breaks, and hydraulic self-leveling jacks like a commercial fifth wheel trailer.

The trailer would have very good ground clearance and would be much nicer to tow on a regular basis than the typical tiny house. The sacrifice is limited ceiling height due to a floor so high in the air. The ceiling is 8 to 9-feet tall, just not tall enough for a true loft. The overall height of this design is just under 13-feet so you could take it on a Ferry to Alaska if that was in your budget (most ferries I researched have limits of 13-feet tall for trailers and RVs).

Custom trailer with high ground clearance and dual tandem 12,000 pound axles.

Due to it’s length, a tiny house like this would likely weigh a lot, like 16,000 to 20,000 pounds with the 4,000-pound Jeep loaded on the back. One drawback of this design would be that it would be tricky to balance the trailer for towing if you were missing the Jeep counterweight.

You just pulled into camp and ready to offload the Jeep. Lower the side stairs for easier access to the Jeep.
The Jeep is loaded, strapped down, and your home is ready to hit the road. The stairs on both sides of the porch would be steel or aluminum and hinge-up and secured when you’re ready to travel.

For sure it would take a heavy duty truck to tow this tiny house, like a RAM 3500, Ford F350/F450, Chevy or GMC 3500. Big trucks like that are built for highway towing, so it might be fun to travel with a Jeep for backwoods exploring, which is why I added a large porch out back that’s deep enough for a Jeep.

It would be driven up and down on ramps just like a flatbed car-hauler trailer. When you’ve setup camps, and the Jeep is parked nearby, the porch would be a nice place out of the mud for hanging out and cooking.

Side view shows the front room on the left, the kitchen window in the center, and the back room on the right.

The shape of the home’s nose is meant to be aerodynamic, or at least more aerodynamic than the typical brick-shaped tiny house.

Total length of trailer and truck would be just under 65-feet – which is about as long as you can go and stay legal. I believe the weight could be kept just under what a commercial driver’s license requires.

In the center of the house is the heaviest stuff: kitchen, bathroom, pantry, clothes storage, water tanks below the floor, etc. The utility items like batteries, solar power gear, generator, and water heater would be in the nose over the gooseneck.

This is a tiny kitchen. The 10 cubic foot 12VDC refrigerator just out of sight on the left. Three pocket doors separate the front room from the kitchen, the kitchen from the hallway (from where you access the bathroom), and the hallway from the back room. Closing these doors could provide more privacy for those using these close but separate spaces.
Looking down at the tiny kitchen counter. It’s only 5′ 6″ wide. A microwave could be added above the induction stove and an oven could fit below – but valuable cabinet space would be sacrificed.

The frame of the house should be steel for it’s light weight and strength. For sheathing I’d choose Huber ZIP R-Sheathing even though its a bit on the heavy side. It provides the shear strength, plus a thermal break, vapor and water barrier all-in-one. The siding and roofing should be lightweight aluminum or steel panels with furring strips behind the panels for the air gap.

Behind the furring strips, siding and roofing should be a continuous inch or two of foam insulation for maximum insulation performance. The wall cavities should also be insulated with lightweight foam.

I like the modern look of plywood for interior walls, so I think I’d sheath the interior with furniture grade plywood. I wouldn’t hide the seams with trim, I think that looks tacky. Instead I’d bevel the edges with a router to accentuate the joints and use nice looking fasteners. If you’re going to use plywood, be proud of it and show it off.

12 huge 425 watt solar panels can fit on the roof for a maximum of 5,100 watts.

Since I’m just having fun imagining the perfect traveling tiny house (and apparently on a limitless budget), it should also have a huge solar system too. The roof is big enough for 12 425 watt solar panels for a whopping 5,100 watts of power. There should also be a lithium battery bank properly sized to store all that sunlight. I’m guessing we’re talking like $15,000 to $20,000 of solar power here.

Why so much solar? Well in that hallway between the kitchen and back room would be a full size stacked washer and dryer hidden behind cabinet doors. There should also be a two head mini-split to keep both ends of the house cool. All of that would require a huge solar system – especially if you wanted to stay cool while boondocking in the desert in your completely off-grid tiny house.

View from the back room looking toward the kitchen, front room, and porch. Notice the mini split head unit on the wall to the right. I hate how those look, but it would be nice in a house with so many windows on a hot day. Also notice the roll-up RV blinds.
View into the back room. The map on the wall shows where this imaginary family has traveled so far. It’s an art piece with interchangeable states stained in two different colors.

The 7-foot sofas in the front and back room are on castors and can be pushed together to form a bed big enough for two. The sofas have three large drawers each (total of 12) for clothing storage for the whole family. The hallway has full length closets for hanging dresses and other clothes. In the back room is a small 2-foot deep loft just big enough for a young child (or hanging out and chilling). The house could sleep a maximum 4 adults and 1 child comfortably.

Looking into the house from the front door. You can just barely see the refrigerator and cabinets on the left in the kitchen in this shot.
Looking back toward the front door and porch beyond. A barbecue, four folding chairs, and two small folding tables are also on the porch.

The bathroom is small, but typical for a tiny house. The shower shown is 36-inches square. The bifold glass door would allow easy access to the shower even when standing inside this small space.

The toilet shown is mounted on the wall and has a tank located inside the wall. These toilets are a bit more expensive but can be as low flush as a typical RV toilet. The space is a bit tight for hanging towels up to dry, but adequate. There’s a window just out of view above the mirror.

This design is actually #35 in a series of tiny houses I’ve been drawing quietly and privately. I’ve decided to take my hobby public again and will begin to share more designs here in the near future. It was drawn with SketchUp Pro 2021 and rendered with SU Podium V2.6.

Stay tuned for more and feel free to tell me what you think in the comments.

Floor Plan