The Features of the Southwestern Style Architecture

Structural Materials

  • Made from adobe, with interior walls roughly plastered over the adobe
  • Stucco or smooth stone can be used instead
  • Simple wood, brick, and stucco construction
  • If adobe is not used, it is simulated by incorporating rounded corners, irregular parapets, and thick, battered walls
  • Red tile roofs (Spanish style) – Flat roofs (Adobe style)

Shape and Form

  • Typically low-slung, one-story designs
  • Flat or low-pitched roof and little overhang
  • Log, narrow porch
  • Asymmetrical exteriors with small, irregularly placed windows
  • Use of arches inside and out


Layout/Floorplan Elements

  • Rooms arranged to interact with the outdoors while keeping the interior cool and shady
  • Many floor plans feature courtyards, patios, or other outdoor living areas
  • Doors often open onto a covered portal or patio
  • Extensive gardens – a cactus garden or cascading tropical plants (such as bougainvilleas)

Common Aesthetic Features

  • Large, heavy wooden doors with iron hardware
  • Rough-sawn timber beams and ceiling
  • Beams are usually exposed, and made from pine or dark wood
  • Rusticated brick floors or terra cotta tile
  • Casement windows, usually recessed
  • Windows that face the street often protected with ornamental grillwork
  • Sidelights, a stack of small vertical windows, commonly flank entry doors
  • Brick-trimmed doors and windows
  • Roughly hewn lintels
  • Stepped-back rooflines imitating pueblo construction
  • Design elements respond to climate and site
  • Uses material honestly so they become design elements themselves
  • Breaks down the barriers between inside and out
  • Outdoor clay fireplace
  • Simple, unadorned walls that blend with the desert landscape
  • Decorative details evoke the Southwestern environment