Pine Forest Cabin cantilevers over a hillside offering unobstructed mountain views in Winthrop, Washington, designed by Balance Associates Architects. In order to meet the client’s budget goals, an efficient plan and cost effective selection of building materials reduced construction costs and led to the simple 850 square foot box design. The use of sheet materials both inside and out maximized material efficiency while emphasizing the simplicity of the cabin’s form.
Two concrete walls cradle the box and allow it to cantilever over the hillside, reducing effective site disturbance. Elevating the cabin allowed for unobstructed views down slope and to the mountains beyond, transforming a modest living space from ordinary room to a viewing platform that extends from inside to out.
This project demonstrates Balance Associates Architects’ belief that architecturally interesting solutions can be achieved for budgets of all sizes without sacrificing quality or aesthetics.
Photos: Steve Keating Photography
Pass Residence is a stunning contemporary desert home that opens up to incredible views extending 40 miles in the very exclusive area of Desert Mountain, Scottsdale, Arizona, designed by Tate Studio Architects. The home was built as a dream retirement for a couple who loves spending time with family. The home is carefully oriented on a 5-acre lot with overhangs that protect the interiors from the relentless desert sun. Outdoor living was a priority as well, so there’s an outdoor kitchen, a lounging patio, a pool and a hot tub. The interiors are comprised of 5,600 square feet of living space with four bedrooms, four-and-a-half bathrooms and office and exercise room. The home has solar panels that generate electricity the power company buys; the pool is also heated by solar energy.
A small fountain sits between two of the cacti in the middle of this photo. “Javelinas love to come up and drink from the small fountain,” states the architect. “That window you see here is in the dining room, so the family enjoys watching them while they eat dinner.”
The stucco wall here is part of a long, curved wall that extends the length of the house; sandblasted concrete blocks make up the wall on the right. The design of the square openings repeats throughout the house.
“I wanted to create an inviting entry that didn’t show you everything at once,” states the architect. A large steel beam draws you toward the front door, and a small fountain draws you in with a gurgling sound that echoes through the entry.
The front entryway is all glass yet does not reveal the views; one discovers those after entering the house. The bottom two-thirds of it is flow glass, which provides light as well as privacy. “The glass creates a beautiful glow,” states the architect. “It has iridescent dichroic flakes in it that make it shimmer and change color throughout the day.”
Beyond the front door, suspended reclaimed barn beams create a rhythm down the gallery. To the left, the open fireplace is repeated outside on the patio. To the right, the end of the gallery becomes part of the master bedroom; the reclaimed barn doors slide across to enclose it.
Looking back toward the front door, Alpaca limestone continues from indoors to out, as does the Arizona brown schist seen around the fireplace. Large windows bring in the expansive desert views; the bottom windows are operational and let in the breeze from the valley. The open fireplace divides the living room from the hearth room. Snapped-edge limestone makes up the hearth and mantel; copper covers the uplit fireplace.
“We combined some traditional and contemporary touches in the kitchen,” states the architect. White oak Shaker-style cabinets and brown schist stone lend a warm, contemporary feel. Behind the range wall, you can see how the roof floats, providing clerestory windows that let in additional daylight.
“The clients love to have everyone gather in the kitchen; the wife loves to cook, and everyone can gather at the granite bar,” states the architect. Better yet, they can walk right outside to the outdoor kitchen and the TV lounge on the patio.
The master bedroom and the gallery share space; the gallery ends in the view of the cactus when the barn doors are left open.
The master bath combines several beautiful textures. The tile in the shower stall is a mix of stone and shell, the tub surround is concrete and the sandblasted block wall continues from inside to out. Three niches next to the bathtub echo the openings out the window.
The far edge of the pool has an 8-inch-deep area with two lounge chairs. Toward the back is the outdoor kitchen and TV lounge; to the right is the riparian corridor. “You can lean on the infinity edge of the pool and watch the deer and other animals in the wash below,” states the architect.
The patio has a series of outdoor rooms. “My client wanted to be able to sit outside in the shade while the pool was sunny, so all of the overhangs were very carefully designed,” states the architect. The overhangs also protect the house itself from direct sunlight.
A large open fireplace echoes the one indoors; there is another small fire feature at the end of the patio next to the hot tub. If you look closely, you can see the city lights in the distance.
The form of the house follows the terrain, stepping down the hillside. The neighborhood was built in a way that does not deter the natural movement of local deer, javalinas, mountain lions and coyotes.
Photos: Mark Boisclair
JH Modern is a contemporary mountain retreat for a couple from Texas designed by Pearson Design Group, situated in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. The owners, one a physician turned entrepreneur and the other an oncologist, wanted a house that took full advantage of the outdoors. After having visited the area eight years ago, they had decided that this is where they wanted to be. With the Teton Range to the west and the Gros Ventre Range to the east, it’s hard to avoid having a spectacular view. In 2011, the couple purchased a five-acre lot for $1.2 million, turning it over to Montana-based Pearson Design Group whose firm had a 5,400-square-foot home built and furnished for them in just 16 months, for about $4 million. General requests by the homeowners included wanting the home to blend with the outside. “We wanted to be able to leave the doors open, and walk in and out. And have living areas outside,” states the owners.
In place of a formal entry hall, the architects substituted an outdoor room.
The outdoor room features an outdoor fireplace, something that comes in handy when the weather is frigid and the snow is knee-deep, as it is in Wyoming during the winter. There are also sliding barn doors, in case it gets too windy. The entry features the best view of the whole house.
The furnishings were chosen to withstand the elements, but the owners do bring the cushions and the pendant light in when they’re not here.
On the floor below the bison heads on the wall is a panel of chevron-patterned French oak set into poured concrete.
Each of the fireplaces is anchored with a slab of Two Dot stone.
In a corner of the living room is a New York Chair from Alchemy Collections; the vintage arrows were found on Etsy.
In one of the bathrooms, a Siena Tamburo Vessel sink from Stone Forest sits on a counter of Claro walnut.
The solid walnut kitchen cabinetry was custom made, with Shift knobs by Ted Boerner for Rocky Mountain Hardware.
The hand-cut plywood letters in the kitchen are from Gregory Morris’s Etsy shop, SlippinSouthern.
The black walnut slab kitchen table is surrounded by Hans Wegner Wishbone chairs from Design Within Reach. The hanging fixture was made by IronGlass Lighting.
The black walnut staircase has LED lights mounted beneath each riser to illuminate the way at night.
In the master bedroom is a custom-designed Claro walnut bed. Over the shagreen-covered Sorin Dresser from Made Goods hangs “A Calf in Between,” by Craig Spankie. The antler chandelier is by Frank Long.
A fuzzy Cortina chair from Refuge sits beside a Modo desk lamp by Jason Miller for Roll & Hill.
In the master bathroom, Ronbow round ceramic sinks with Purist fixtures from Kohler sit on Calacatta marble counters. The Bella Modern Pendant Light is from Niche.
A custom-made cabinet in the master bedroom has Brut Pendant pulls by Ted Boerner for Rocky Mountain Hardware.
Mr. Pearson said he thought of the house as “an extension of the landscape.” He added, “A mountain home is part of something much grander.”
Leaving behind a world of urban routines, the client commissioned GarciaGerman Arquitectos to design Ex House, to achieve a feeling of retreat and isolation in the rural setting of the Somosierra mountain range of Spain. The client had abandoned their life of living in downtown Madrid and the term “Ex” refers to this process of leaving and the disadvantages of leaving this world behind. The home’s location takes full advantage of its close proximity to the city, with the property at just 1km. distance from the N-1 highway and one-hour drive from Madrid. A way of life in tune with nature but accessible from the city, appropriate for young dwellers.
The 1,453 square foot (135 square meters) house, camouflaged inside a dense forest, manages to face the views of the granite Somosierra and La Pinilla peaks to the south while looking at the same time to the reddish vast sediment plains that extend to the north, sitting in this geological transition and facing both directions. These views are formalized in two large identical 4,50m. openings situated in opposite sides of the central square-plan living area. This living area has a fireplace and is double-heighted to the north, regulating the inside temperature of the house.
Building systems incorporate high-tech devices in construction methods with a predominant concern for sustainability in the processes and materials employed, offering environmental standards that combine a contemporary level of comfort with the recovery of a secluded lifestyle with all of its charms.
The use of wood and its qualities, not only technical (insulation, easiness in handling, waste reduction) but also cultural and somatic (awareness of a sustainable living, warm textures, comfort connotations), determines the entire working process, providing the house with its characteristics natural and friendly finishes.
The working process was drastically reduced from the usual 13-14 months in buildings of this size (120-140m2) to 3 months, allowing for the house completion in about 8 months from the first drawings, lowering the costs by minimizing transport, reducing displacement of all parts involved and minimizing management phases. The quartering of high-strength cross-laminated wood panels is modulated to fit one single truck which is driven from the Austrian factory. The panel are then assembled on-site by skilled labour (3 people) in a 5 day process.
The house is built without earthworks and placed gently in the shade of a group of existing trees, rehearsing an essential lifestyle which mixes contemporary devices with the recovery of basic activities: fireplace, vegetable garden, septic tank and heat generation system through fire-heated water are combined with 18 cm. mineral-wool thermal insulation, triple gas filled anodized aluminium glazing 6 / 6 +12 +4 mm. and green roofs with a multilayer cover. All these devices add up to a drastic reduction in maintenance costs.
Facades are done with 16cm. wide toothed wooden planks manufactured from cheap local Valsaín (Segovia) pine, recovering a XVI Century local tradition from the Austria-dynasty-era and in disuse nowadays. This closes a circle which starts with the high-tech-prefab “pan-European” structure of the house and ends with the reactivation of a beloved local craft in the house’s enclosures.
Photos: Jorge López Conde
Ski Slope Residence is a sensational rustic mountain retreat that just underwent an extensive and exquisite remodel designed by High Camp Home in Truckee, California. The home is comprised of 3,606 square feet of living space, with three bedrooms and three baths plus a bunk loft above the pool table room. This custom home is full of reclaimed barnwood, custom iron work, iron fixtures and stacked stone fireplaces, all with breathtaking and panoramic views of Donner Lake. The residence was featured in the February 2009 cover of Tahoe Quarterly as the Award Winning remodel of the year.
Photos: Courtesy of High Camp Home
Blue Hills House has been designed by la SHED architecture, perched on the edge of a mountainous slope in Morin-Heights, Quebec, Canada. The single story 2,152 square foot (200 square meters) residence is nestled on a large forested property, sitting gracefully between the trees and is only hardly visible from the street. As per the occupants’ and architect’s wishes, the house has a dual relationship with its environment; from the outside, it is camouflaged in its setting and is as discreet as possible.
In order to create an inconspicuous house in the landscape, the house was conceived all on the same level. The exterior is completely covered with natural white cedar siding which will become grey over time so that the residence will be even more unnoticeable behind the bark of the surrounding trees. The simple and elongated volume of the house is punctuated with perforations forming white alcoves in which were installed the windows.
The interior is all organized around the kitchen, which is the center of the house. The kitchen is characterized by the presence of two large kitchen islands which are functional as well as creating a convivial ambiance. The living space (living room and dining room) are located on each side of the kitchen. These spaces also extends to an outdoor veranda, integrated in the volume of the house. Large openings on both sides of the house helps giving a feeling of being outside while creating frames on the landscape. Inside, the polished concrete slab floor extends outside, both in the veranda and in the small alcoves.
From the inside, the house is completely open to its surroundings, and its occupants are met with scenery that is in constant evolution. In both cases, the house gives way to the wild grandeur of the Laurentians.
The Blue Hills House, through its refinement and simplicity, allows for a harmonious coexistence between man and nature. By establishing a comfortable, relaxed and light environment, living in this home is akin to perpetual holiday.
Photos: Maxime Brouillet
Casa no Banzão ll is a contemporary property that has been designed by Frederico Valsassina Arquitectos completed in 2007 in Pinhal do Banzão, Colares, Portugal. The house is siutated in the pine forest Banzão in Sintra, overlooking the mountains and represents the desire of the house designed for rest after many years living in the bustle of the city. There was a pre-existing structure with which the clients had a great connection, so the architects preserved a few of the materials in order to reuse them. In this case the place was already established, it is projected on the basis of some key elements in conjunction with the program.
The living room also had to be a ‘music box’ has been studied as such, becomes the core of the house where everything happens: the entryway, the view of mountains, the pergola, garden, patio with olive trees, the change to the area of rooms or technical areas. The experience of the house focuses on contemplation.
The suite is privileged with a view of the mountains while the remaining quarters live around the pool and its seating area and have direct access to the outside.
Photos: © Courtesy of Frederico Valsassina Arquitectos
Black Desert House has been designed by Oller & Pejic Architecture, situated in Yucca Valley, which is located near Palm Springs, east of Los Angeles in the high desert near the Joshua Tree National Park. Upon first meeting the clients, the architects had found that they shared a common aesthetic and process and after seeing the property. They knew the project was like nothing else they had ever done, a once in a lifetime opportunity. Beyond the technical and regulatory challenges of building on the site- several previous owners had tried and given up– there was the challenge of how to build appropriately on such a sublime and pristine site. It is akin to building a house in a natural cathedral.
Here is a description of the project from the architects: Our client had given us a brief but compelling instruction at the start of the process- to build a house like a shadow. This had a very specific relevance to the desert area where the sunlight is often so bright that the eye’s only resting place is the shadows.
Unfortunately, the site had been graded in the 1960′s when the area was first subdivided for development. A small flat pad had been created by flattening several rock outcroppings and filing in a saddle between the outcroppings. To try to reverse this scar would have been cost prohibitive and ultimately impossible. It would be a further challenge to try to address this in the design of the new house. The house would be located on a precipice with almost 360 degree views to the horizon and a large boulder blocking views back to the road.
A long process of research began with the clients showing us images of houses they found intriguing- mostly contemporary houses that showed a more aggressive formal and spatial language than the mid-century modern homes that have become the de-facto style of the desert southwest.
We looked back at precedents for how architects have dealt with houses located in similar topography and found that generally they either sought to integrate the built work into the landscape, as in the work of Frank Lloyd Wright and later Rudolf Shindler or to hold the architecture aloof from the landscape as in the European modernist tradition of Mies van der Rohe. While on a completely virgin site, the lightly treading minimalist approach would be preferred, here we decided that the Western American tradition of Land Art would serve as a better starting point, marrying the two tendencies in a tense relationship with the house clawing the ground for purchase while maintaining its otherness.
The house would replace the missing mountain that was scraped away, but not as a mountain, but a shadow or negative of the rock; what was found once the rock was removed, a hard glinting obsidian shard.
Concept in place, we began fleshing out the spaces and movement through the house. We wanted the experience of navigating the house to remind one of traversing the site outside. The rooms are arranged in a linear sequence from living room to bedrooms with the kitchen and dining in the middle, all wrapping around a inner courtyard which adds a crucial intermediate space in the entry sequence and a protected exterior space in the harsh climate.
The living room was summed up succinctly by the homeowner as a chic sleeping bag. The space, recessed into the hillside with a solid earthen wall to lean your back against as you survey the horizon is a literal campsite which finds its precedent in the native cliff dwellings of the Southwest.
The dark color of the house interior adds to the primordial cave-like feeling. During the day, the interior of the house recedes and the views are more pronounced. At night the house completely dematerializes and the muted lighting and stars outside blend to form an infinite backdrop for contemplation.
The project would never have come about without the continued efforts of the entire team. The design was a collaborative effort between Marc and Michele and the architects. The patience and dedication of the builder, Avian Rogers and her subcontractors was crucial to the success of the project. Everyone who worked on the project knew it was something out of the ordinary and put forth incredible effort to see it completed.
Split View Mountain Lodge is a private holiday retreat designed by Reiulf Ramstad Arkitekter, located near the mountain village of Geilo, a popular skiing destination in Havsdalen, Buskerud, Norway. Ski resorts are abundant around the lodge, with a freestyle terrain park right next to the site. Out of winter season, the mountains provide excellent hiking opportunities as well as other sporting activities. The family of four with anticipation of a fifth addition provided a straight-forward program for their 1,400 square foot (130 square meters) mountain lodge: four bedrooms, separate living and dining areas, a youth lounge and a mezzanine for the younger children. In addition a small annex would accommodate guests and visiting grandparents.
Our response was a cabin of clear and clean-cut expression with a continuous skin of timber cladding on the exterior walls and roof, which will acquire a grey patina with time. The volume consists of a main body, housing mostly bedrooms, which follow the natural contours of the landscape and splits into two living zones. This shift in program and use of multiple levels allows the building to adapt to the slope of the site. The separate volume of the annex is placed in extension of the main body, contributing to the three characteristic split views through fully glazed end walls.
The cabin is entered beneath the cantilevered glazed volume into a hall with polished in-situ concrete floor, functioning as an intermediate zone to remove ski boots and outdoor clothing. A wooden stair ascends from the low basement and opens onto the generous space of the living quarters, capped by a complex ceiling of pitched planes high above. At the core of the holiday home, where the separate wings branch off from the main body in plan, is the kitchen. Its countertop of glass fiber reinforced concrete is cantilevered into the center of the space and anchored by a two-sided fireplace at the other end. Steps go onto separate spaces for dining and relaxing by the suspended second fireplace.
The extruded form of the structure frames the spectacular views from within the cabin, while strategically positioned smaller openings along its volume provides glimpses of the immediate surroundings. The elevated levels of the living and dining areas provide its occupants with a high degree of privacy, further enjoyed by ample seating niches within the outer walls. The interior floor, walls and ceiling are homogenously lined with virtually knot-free joinery timber, while all opening frames are concealed or discrete. The attention to detail and high quality is comprehensive and coherent throughout the project.
Through sliding doors along the hallway of the narrow main body is each of the bedrooms as well as a bathroom with sauna. The master bedroom opens onto a gable-shaped window extruded through the side wall for an outlook onto the night sky, while each of the children’s bedrooms has a loft bunk bed for visiting friends. At the far end of the hall is the youth lounge and overhead mezzanine with views through the glazed gable end straight onto the ski slope.
The mountain lodge is a continuation of Norwegian building traditions in form and materiality, perched beautifully within its landscape and responding to its context.
Photos: Søren Harder Nielsen, Reiulf Ramstad Arkitekter
This cozy cottage is nestled in an idyllic spot among olive trees, with stunning views to the Sierra de Gredos mountains, Cáceres, Spain. The successful transformation of the home has been carried out by architect Alfonso Monteagudo, where the original structure was maintained and recovered materials resulted in a warm country home with discreet traditional details. The owners have opened their doors to turning this home into a vacation refuge called ‘Vaquería CantaElGallo.’
The home feature a discrete range of neutral paints, stucco walls, concrete ceilings with exposed wood and concrete floors that extends environments. This skillful handling of infallible tools such as color, light and coatings, transmits tranquility and order. The furniture, masonry and wood mostly define the country style but with a dose of tradition, and even notes through stately pieces brought from different parts of the world and rescued from antique shops.
The main entrance to the house is surrounded by nature, which seeps into the interior through the glass door and fixed window. That feeling of openness and blending with the environment is found in the continuity in the decoration through the materials.
Another special feature of this home is its distribution: a large central room where shared-use is the living room, dining room and kitchen — are attached two rooms designed as small apartments with living area and integrated en-suite bathroom. Each room worships comfort with simple and functional furniture, with complements of antique mirrors, earthenware containers or glass jars) that blend compositions full of charm. The luxury: space and simplicity.
Photos: Mi Casa