Wilson, WY - 2010
The site for this residence is steeply sloping from the entry level to the terrace level at the rear of the house. The topography coursing perpendicular to this slope takes the shape of the letter “W”. This natural land form was used as a tool to designate the zoning of the house. On the north leg of the “W” is the garage, laundry, and kitchen/dining area; this is oriented slightly north of east. In the center of the “W”, at the point, is the Entry and Living Space, looking due east. On the final leg of the “W” is the master bedroom/bath looking slightly south of east. This response to the natural topography minimized impact to the site, by simplifying excavation and sites the house with a sense of natural repose. Thus anchored to the site, the house feels a part of the topography.
The volume of the house is compressed at the front door, and as one moves east, down the stairs into the living space, one experiences a release of this compression as the shed roof rises to clear the mountains and embrace the sky. This sensation is enhanced by the land falling away simultaneously, giving the outdoor decks a feeling of weightlessness as they float over the lower level. This effect is repeated in both the kitchen and master bedroom portions of the house.
The desire to build a residence in traditional materials, but recodified for the 21st century, led to the use of hand-hewn rectangular logs for the exterior siding. These logs have dovetail joints at each corner giving the rustic material a precision crafted presentation. The roof is constructed of machine sawn tapered western red cedar shingles. The low pitched shed roof and the need to use these shingles presented a waterproofing challenge, and this challenge was met by using a single-ply roofing material under the shingles. In all cases the exterior wood was treated with a non-VOC wood preservative whose formulation allows the wood to weather naturally as it is exposed to the elements. On the opposite side of the house, the exuded and extroverted façade is composed primarily of glass. This façade permits a panoramic view of the mountains to the east. This continuous panoramic view that is available to occupants of any room on the second floor constantly refreshes the perception of where one is with respect to the mountains and other land forms in the valleys to the east. The guard rails on the exterior decks are detailed with steel flats to keep the view through them as uninterrupted as possible helping to preserve that panorama.
The interior palate of materials is kept as simple as the exterior with the intent to create an environment that is beautiful as well as tolerant of the demand put upon it my a high altitude mountain lifestyle. Polished concrete floors painted gypsum walls and wood ceilings capitalize on the light that floods the residence and while adding a bit of natural color and texture.