Sconfinato, Italian for “boundless,” is an eighty-two-acre development that includes seven houses designed by Johnson. His unconventional houses look like modern sculptures—one takes the form of a square up-ended on its corner—and were built with unfinished wood, sheet steel, concrete, recycled materials, and glass. Echoing the fledgling environmental movement in 1969, Johnson’s designs promised to harmonize with the landscape, give privacy for occupants, and use passive solar heat and interior lighting. However, over the years, house values declined in this utopian development, as did many of the unconventional houses themselves, doomed in part by deed restrictions on alterations and repairs. After twenty years, Johnson moved his architectural practice to Arizona.
The Bob Caldart House (1969; 6905 Sconfinato Drive), built for a local potter and art teacher, was the first house that Johnson designed in the neighborhood. It resembles a reclining crescent moon, built of concrete and bracketed by columns of clay bricks recycled from a silo. The Russell Kagen House at 6900 Sconfinato resembles a folded roll of corrugated steel rusting on its side, with three circular window portals punched into the walls.