The Canyon Residence was designed by Kevin B Howard Architects to make living in the Sonoran Desert an integrated part of daily life in The Canyons, Catalina Foothills, Tuscon, Arizona. This was accomplished by creating architecture that was part of the landscape and allowing the site to influence form. Rock outcroppings and water shed patterns dictated formal responses and anchored the residence. A juxtaposing of horizontals lines and solid masses complement the vertical nature of the saguaro cacti. The entry steps up in time with the hillside meeting the main floor where it rests, bridging the ephemeral wash below.
The residence spans across a wash preserving the existing water shed patterns. The entry walk was designed to raise guests up out of the site along this wash. The main living space is located immediately beyond the entrance, providing a striking mountain panorama from the northeast- facing wall of glass. In addition to the site integration, materials were chosen not to contrast with the site, but instead compliment its beauty.
The entry bridge, looking back over the expansive desert views.
The unique qualities of the site demanded an organically designed residence. The design grew out of site integration and minimal impact. By specifying materials and colors contextual to the southwest, the final design created a home that is both timeless and complimentary to its surroundings.
The living room opens to the edge of the Coronado National Forest. The boundary between interior and exterior is blurred by the continuation of the tongue and groove ceiling finish.
There are 72 Solar PV panels installed on the roof. The first full month of Solar PV production showed 115% above the original estimated amounts. This is due to the slope of the roof being optimized for spring and summer solar orientation.
Photos: Dominique Vorillon Photography
The Butte Residence is a striking modern home and artist studio designed by Carney Logan Burke Architects, located on an extraordinary 38-acre site on a butte in Jackson, Wyoming. The site overlooks the confluence of the Snake and Gros Ventre Rivers and commands panoramic views of the Teton Mountain Range and National Parks.
The design was driven by the desire to capitalize on the potential of this site while weaving the architecture of the buildings into the topography, maintaining a modest profile on the skyline. In addition, the owner, a collector of contemporary art and sculpture, desired architecture with character and materiality that respects western tradition but embraces abstract, clean, light-filled spaces.
By organizing the program in a series of volumes that range across the site, individual spaces open to varied views and access points; from dramatic sweeping vistas to intimate, secluded experiences within the trees.
Gently curving roof forms separately capture public and private functions within the residential program. Springing from and returning to the topography of the site, the roof profile mimics the soft shape of the butte and creates a series of protective canopies that provide shelter in the harsh western landscape.
Photos: Paul Worchol
The Syncline house was designed as a place of solitude for a professional couple by architecture studio Arch11, located near Boulder, Colorado. Situated at the fold between the Rocky Mountain foothills and the Great Plains, the house mediates horizons and peaks, city and alpine meadows. Conceived as a frame for viewing the landscape, Arch11 meticulously modeled the residence within the site to ensure that planes of glass capture ridgetop views while respecting the city’s height restrictions.
A Pre-Paleozoic fold creates a distinction between the Great Plains and the Rocky Mountain Foothills. Geologically referred to as a syncline, a crease caused by uplift of an ancient sea bed, the fold distinguishes the inhabited plains from mountain park space. The upward plane of the fold presents a landscape described and observed moving sectionally through the house.
The wedge shaped site was bound by numerous restrictive land use limitations: a wetland buffer, height restrictions, a solar access restriction, and multiple setback and easement boundary requirements. A three-dimensional computer model was developed describing the limits of the buildable envelope.
The project was conceived as a threshold between the city and the mountain park. The client, an entrepreneurial and professional rock climbing couple, requested the house to be “a place where town life can be left behind.” The house is a threshold between both the cultural and geologic creases: one between the domestic and the feral, the other between horizontal and vertical. Through a domestic grove of flowering trees, a solid wood wall, broken only by a perpendicular stone wall, opens to the house interior. Once inside, the stone wall becomes a thickened poche of mechanical and service elements leading through to the west wall of the house, a glazed wall framing the mountain parks.
The western wall phenomenally erodes, revealing the landscape with varying degrees of openness. At the entry, framed apertures provide controlled vignettes of the landscape from foreground meadow to high ground cliffs. As the entry opens to the living spaces the apertures transform in scale to reveal the expansive landscape in its entirety. At the southwest corner thirty feet of glass retracts into the walls, dissolving the boundary between the domestic and the wild; the living spaces are then bounded only by the uplifted cliffs beyond. Reciprocally, the native meadow to the west folds onto the garage roof providing easy outdoor access for visiting guests in the house’s guest suite.
A simple stair cantilevers from the stone wall. Climbing the stairs, the foreground, mid range, and ridge views are sequentially revealed. Experientially scissoring into the landscape and back into the house the stairs connect the mountain park with the house. The west wall of glazing extends the western room boundaries to the wall of rock and meadows beyond. The east wall remains closed, allowing only privileged, controlled views and light from the clerestory above.
Working within some of the strictest energy performance codes in the country, the house is designed to be self sustained utilizing a ground loop heat exchange system that taps into the very bedrock seen at the distant ridge. A ten kilovolt photo-voltaic electrical system powers pumps, compressors and the domestic electrical needs.
To support an envelope comprised of 50% glazing, a structural steel frame is used in place of traditional stick framing throughout the home. The western facade was challenged by height and wind exposure. The thickened wall is a steel brace frame that incorporates vertical vierendeel trusses to resist the 120 mile per hour winds coming down out of the mountains. Additionally, it accommodates the primary vertical mechanical chases.
Built with innovative renewable energy systems and materials crafted to last centuries, the house is a model of cutting-edge sustainable design and attains a LEED gold certification. Roof gardens allow the land to literally envelop the house, and expansive, retracting glass walls provide full views of the Flatirons to the west while connecting interiors with outdoor rooms. Executed with uncompromising detail, surfaces meet with quiet precision, creating a serene background for the landscape and mountains beyond.
Photos: Courtesy of Arch11
This Martis Camp Estate Home is a contemporary mountain property that has been designed by BAR Architects, located in Truckee, Nevada County, California. One of the original objectives of BAR’s design was to orient this custom mountain home to take maximum advantage of the spectacular views to the Carson Range and Northstar’s Lookout Mountain afforded by this amazing lot in Martis Camp. To achieve this, the primary rooms of the 7,580 square foot house – living, dining, kitchen, family room, master bedroom and kids’ bedrooms – are aligned along the hillside to front towards the view.
A large great room has large sliding doors that pocket into the walls to allow the interior to completely open up to the exterior and the views. In addition to providing maximum views, the careful planning of this upslope lot preserves a large existing pine tree at the center of the lot as a feature that brings the forest right up to the front door, and provides for indoor/outdoor living for all seasons.
The home was laid out as three separate gable structures. One gable for the garage and guest rooms; another housing the great room pavilion; and the third housing the master bedroom, TV room and study. The three camp buildings are linked by a glazed flat roof breezeway housing the entry, boot/coat room, powder room and stair to the lower level.
The design of the floor plan results in a home that is both comfortable for the owners when they are there by themselves, yet expandable to comfortably accommodate up to 18 friends and family. The architecture brings together simple traditional mountain building forms with large openings and contemporary detailing to the great satisfaction and delight of the owners.
Photos: Courtesy of BAR Architects
Gubbins House is a contemporary property designed by Antonio Zaninovic Architecture Studio in collaboration with Rees Roberts & Partners, located at the base of Table Mountain in Cape Town, South Africa. The project won a 2010 Honor Award from the American Society and Landscape Architects for its many sustainable features and its incredible local flora garden.
Surrounded by protected natural parklands on three sides, the house was built on an exceptional plot at the base of Table Mountain with sweeping views down to the city and harbor below. The site lies alongside a ravine, where amid the dense vegetation a stream flows in an uninterrupted path from the mountain parks above all the way to the city dams below.
Tucked in against the mountain, the structure was designed to integrate as much as possible with its surrounding landscape. An excavated courtyard gives access to the house, ensuring total privacy from the street and an adjacent neighbor and also protecting its inhabitants from the strong southern winds. This tranquil space complete with a pond and sculptural indigenous trees leads to the six-meter-high foyer tower which articulates the different elements of the house that continue out from that central focal point.
From there, the sleeping quarters branch off to the west and hover over the ravine and trees. The more public entertaining spaces extend towards the north, and by cantilevering these spaces over the garden and swimming pool below, views afforded to the forest, city, and ocean below were maximized. Towards the south, the kitchen and service rooms enjoy the protection of the mountainside from the fierce natural elements.
In terms of energy and functional programming, the foyer is the central location for various processes that keep the house running efficiently. A reflective pond filled with borehole water flows from the interiors to the outside; in turn, breezes travel over the water back inside through low windows, helping to cool the house in the summer. Once outside, the pond continues into a waterfall, which becomes a filter for the natural swimming pool below as well as a seamless water wall for the sauna room behind. The foyer’s roof also houses the solar components that provide under-floor water heating during the winter months, in addition to hot water year round.
While the house was designed to employ cross-ventilation, temperature control is also achieved through the inclusion of semi-excavated rooms in the built house, which allow the stable temperatures of the earth to act as a climactic moderator. Heat-repelling glass and appropriate cantilevers to the north combined with highly insulated glass to the south keep heat in or out, depending on the season. Notably, the house was built with locally produced materials to maximize constructive potential by utilizing the craftsmanship and techniques native to the region.
The landscape draws on the context of the site by continuing the Fynbos, a natural heathland vegetation native to a small belt of the Western Cape, down from Table Mountain and through the garden landscape, effectively marrying it with the surrounding mountains. Garden pathways and steps meander through the varied planting areas, creating a seamless connection between interior and garden rooms. An outdoor seating area is nestled in the plantings away from the mountain winds, yet has dynamic views of the Cape Town Harbor below. In addition to the waterfall, the natural swimming pool also uses plantings to filter the water, giving the experience of swimming in a crystal clear lake. Ultimately, the landscape is designed to fully integrate the built house with its natural surrounding environment.
The design strategy for the interiors also takes cues from the surrounding site. Rich carpets and fabrics are juxtaposed against hard concrete floors and other simple surfaces. Modern furniture with clean lines is employed along with more sculptural pieces and artwork that add character and vitality to the interior mood. The simple color palette of the house gives a bright and airy feeling that defers to the views outside. The outdoors is also actively engaged, as in the case of the Master Bedroom and its free form plan that extends toward an open air screening space. Despite its carefully planned and richly treated interiors, the house retains a comfortable and relaxed style that draws upon recognizably native elements such as local wood paneled walls and pieces by local artists.
Hillside House is a contemporary single family property designed by GASS Architecture Studios, situated on the slopes of the Helderberg Mountains in Stellenbosch, South Africa. The residence is simultaneously arresting and juxtaposed as it fits flawlessly into its surroundings, nestled between rolling vineyards, a koppie (small granite hill) and a river below
You approach the house up a steep driveway meandering through the vineyards. The driveway and the forecourt are a modern interpretation of a traditional farmhouse. This is characterized overall by the planning of the house’s location but also more specifically by the gravel driveway, expansive forecourt, drive-in open garaging reminiscent of a barn and water feature evocative of an animal’s drinking trough. This modern drinking trough is then fed by a modernist architectural waterspout from the roof of the house.
These farmhouse characteristics are not just visual either. Other senses are also stimulated: your scent is stimulated by the smells of the farmlands and rural surrounding as is your auditory sense when you hear the gravel beneath the car’s tires.
There is a genuine sense of arrival every time you visit Hillside. Access to the front door is gained from a double-sided staircase from left or right of the gravel arrivals courtyard. This short stairway is a nod to the Colonial influence of traditional Cape vernacular typical to architecture seen in the Cape (many buildings in and around Cape Town like The Castle of Good Hope, the City Hall and Tokai Manor House, for example, boast this kind of double-sided arrival staircase).
As visitor – and homeowner – you are fully aware of the amazing setting but on arriving within the farm yard style forecourt the scale of the house changes from a 3-story to a double volume dwelling – so you don’t really get a sense of all the floors and levels. Beyond this point it is by no means farmhouse, well not in the traditional sense of the word anyway.
Before walking up the steps to the solid timber double front doors you also have the choice of going downstairs to the guest suites (that are currently being used by the home owner’s older children when they’re not at university).
A repetitive architectural feature of the house is the many stacked granite stone walls. Most of the stones for these have been harvested from the site. The front door is also situated within one of these granite feature walls. Before entering the house one has no idea what to expect on the other side – it’s a kind of tardis with unexpected treasures beyond! As you walk through the threshold you are immediately greeted by a giant picture window showcasing the inner courtyard around which the home is designed and the koppie (small granite hill) to the rear of the house. The koppie (small granite hill), as with the rest of the garden, boasts local fynbos and indigenous flora and a kitchen garden to the side.
From the home owners:
We wanted a home that merged the inside and the outside and that gave us beautiful changing visual cameos wherever you looked. Our architect managed to masterfully capture our need for simplicity, nature and a very serene ambiance that is then offset by our somewhat mad and effusive large family.
Photos: Kate Del Fante Scott
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