Modern on a Slowly Rising Hill
Home to a local physician and his family, the decidedly modern residence makes a bold statement in a town where the general preference is toward traditional designs in neat, predictable neighborhoods. “When we decided to build a new home on the outskirts of town, we were open to the architectural possibilities that varied from our traditional roots,” says the homeowner.
Located in the rolling hills of Wyoming, this residence was configured as a single story to contend with the realities of the harsh winter climate. Bitter temperatures, unrelenting snowfalls and a biting wind that can gust in excess of 100-miles-per-hour, all combined to create a unique design challenge.
As the gusting wind crests the hill behind the home, it plummets across the rooftop. The arc-like shape of the roof guides the wind in an aerodynamic manner, shielding the structure from forceful gusts. Although the construction serves a practical purpose, it also creates an aesthetically pleasing design that systematically roots the home in its natural surroundings.
In response to the site’s challenges, the architects designed a low-slung structure anchored in concrete, steel and wood that clings to the base of a hillside. Forming a contemporary X, the home gracefully stretches its elongated wings into the countryside’s expanse. The unconventional shape of the house allows for different views from every room, while also creating a very functional living space with private and public wings that are connected by a family playroom at the junction.
The AA design team wanted to bring that indoor-outdoor California feeling to this home in Wyoming by highlighting its physical connection to the land. Because of the climate, however, they opted for expansive windows, not expansive openings, to capture the beautiful quality of light and the picturesque view. These windows are layered with concrete, steel and wood to converge in textural detail, accenting the sloping wings and defining a natural focal point. The thick, concrete walls add stability to the structure, while also highlighting the compositional datum line, which serves as the visual break between wood and stone. Above this delineated 10-foot mark, horizontal bands of redwood add warmth and a Western quality to the modern home. Inside, the datum line is seamlessly continued through the use of like materials, adding logic and structure to the design, and blurring the lines between inside and out.