Case Study

AutoCamp Joshua Tree Airstream Site Channels California Desert Spirit

Joshua Tree, California, USA

The Challenge

To create a contextually appropriate building that captures the serenity of the desert. and to incorporate a feeling of both privacy and community on the property.

The Design Solution

Located just outside Joshua Tree National Park about a two-hour drive from Los Angeles, Autocamp Joshua Tree benefits from the design team’s use of simple and elegant architectural forms. The architecture nods to the eclectic nature of the town where it resides, supplemented with a mid-century modern elegance.

Intentional use of raw and native materials provides texture and rustication, bringing a sense of nostalgia for the true camping experience.

The culture and climate of Joshua Tree set the stage for our design. We used passive design elements to inspire guests to connect with nature while focusing the design of the space to complement Joshua Tree’s complex and intense climate.

By shifting the axis of the property, HKS designers helped provide a seamless indoor/outdoor experience that shades visitors from the desert sun and wind, while allowing views toward the vistas and beauty of Joshua Tree.

Simple and compact architectural forms create an identity for the property that, at once, exudes both intimacy, privacy, and community. Intimate moments and privacy are encouraged at the airstream campsites, but guests can also opt for shared spaces and a sense of community by engaging with a variety of clubhouse elements designed to create kinship, including firepits, a plunge pool, and participating in interactive programming put on by AutoCamp including fireside chats, movie nights under the stars, yoga, and sound healing sessions outdoors.

The Design Impact

The AutoCamp site is designed to limit its impact on the environment, incorporating low water use, native plantings, xeriscaping to minimize irrigation, on-site water treatment, a heavy reliance on solar power, and dark sky-compliant lighting to preserve the clear view of stars.

Project Features

  • Mid-century modern clubhouse retreat with lounge and fireplace
  • General store
  • Fire pits
  • Plunge pool
  • Roaming paths


  • 2022 Boutique Design Gold Key Awards for Excellence Finalist, Specialty Design