In the current context of escalating climate catastrophes paralleled with depleting energy resources, degrading fresh water supplies and diminishing agricultural lands, there is an increasing preoccupation with the prospects of a fast approaching ecological global crisis. Arid regions, which under normal circumstances are places of acute extremes, are afflicted by these trends more profoundly. Dryland ecosystems are places where survival hangs on a most fragile equilibrium, therefore any anomaly or scarcity can be detrimental to their viability. Alternatively, due to their unique ecosystem properties, not available in other more moderate environments, deserts can represent places of immeasurable potential for a prosperous subsistence. The Negev desert accounts for two thirds of the land area of Israel and is employed as a case study for this exploration. The thesis investigates the following four narratives: FERTILE VISIONS dissects the ethos of blooming the desert and the inherent contradictions of realized utopias. EPHEMERAL FLOWS constructs a broad framework of the Negev’s ecosystem, while mapping the operating forces and their affect on the system’s stability. VITAL SIGNS curates a catalogue of strategies, systems and technologies in the fields of water management, solar energy and controlled environments. Their juxtaposition starts to suggest plausible hybrids. Finally, EFFECTIVE TERRAINS defines design strategies for new models of desert living, based on integrated infrastructural systems. It envisions a prototype for a community planned through the synthetic interweaving of the existing desert ecosystem with water, energy and agricultural production.