The Hill House sits on a long, narrow, rocky ridge line, sloping gently to the south and steeply to the east and west. Site conditions dictated a long, narrow structure, and client expectations suggested a building deeply rooted in the landscape.
The resulting project is conceived as a habitable landscape, a place to gather, shelter and rest, closely aligned with the rugged beauty of the site and responsive to the natural conditions.
The primary structure is composed of a 20’ wide x 115’ long stepped platform. Shelter is provided by a light, wood-framed roof that hovers above, supported by a solid wall to the east, which cuts into the land like a rusty blade, evoking the cultural history of the mining encampments found nearby and providing privacy from the road.
Viewed from the interior, this wall provides a defensive backdrop and a strong contrast to the glass walls that comprise the south, west and north facades.
Gabion stone walls, made from the spoils of the excavations and conceived to reduce off-site waste, provide retaining, context and privacy while bridging between building and landscape.
Interior rooms are defined by vertical plywood diaphragms, stained to match the color of the nearby aspen grove during the autumn leaf season.The building is designed to be seasonally expansive – generous in summer (2200 SF) when livability expands out onto the ample wood decks, and modest and efficient in winter (1100 SF), when the harsh realities of the extreme northern climate are apparent.
Sustainable materials and techniques, based on readily available materials and technologies, are used throughout, including recycled steel, sustainably harvested wood, BIBS insulation in oversized wall and ceiling cavities, on-demand hot water, low-flow plumbing fixtures and convection heat.
Fenestration is designed to encourage passive solar radiation in winter and natural ventilation in summer.
Large overhangs and seasonally-deployed, exterior-mounted sun shades (made from fabric used in the local fruit orchards) protect the glass from summer sun. The result is an elemental building, deceptively simple, deeply rooted in the site and unexpectedly crisp and modern.
This is a modest, sustainable building with a big presence in a big landscape.