The architects and their clients had 75 scenic acres to parse for this vacation home, but they decided to tuck it discreetly into the hillside. Everyone felt a tremendous responsibility to protect the natural wonders of the place, and every time the program threatened to bloat, the team pulled together to rein it back in. “It was really about right-sizing,” says principal-in-charge Todd Kennedy, AIA, “about having less house to build, heat, and maintain.”
It was also about preserving 100 percent of the trees on site, mostly 150-foot-tall Englemann spruces. Our judges admired the restraint: “The house sits so modestly in the landscape,” they noted. “It’s just enough; there’s nothing extra. And we’ve never seen this copper sequence with the DNA of the trees.” The “DNA” in the project name comes from the copper skin that clads the main house, garage, and small sauna building—its random sequencing derived from those spruce trees.
“This land had been in the family for a really long time,” explains project architect Jenny Trumble. “So we thought a lot about how do we not ruin this—how do we not be so heavy. We looked for ways to think about the house as camouflage, and the copper siding was part of that—it changes through the different times of day and weather.”
“The vertical stripes break up the reflectivity,” Todd adds. “They keep the buildings from being one big reflective surface.” The jury appreciated the way the light undulates across the skin and how the small compound traces the rolling topography of the site.
Pulling apart the program helped the architects navigate the buildings around the trees and over the hills. “I love the way the roof lifts up and catches the echo of the hill,” noted one judge. Those changes in roofline were a strategic move to harness views and light, and the lifted corner gave just enough height to squeeze in a small sleeping loft—part of the team’s “right-sizing” effort.
In winter months, the house is accessible only by snowshoeing in. So the firm designed what it calls “giant doors” to protect the glazed north entrance from the worst weather while allowing it to remain open to important light and views in temperate months.
Interior details strike a balance between the husband’s wish for a rustic cabin and the wife’s desire for a refined, well-appointed home. “We embraced the idea of cabin,” says Todd, “but in a sophisticated way.” Sleek white oak walls and ceilings, executed with meticulous reveals, keep the interiors warm and welcoming. And the Alpine DNA reappears in a reading nook, which transitions the copper cladding outside to wood paneling with a light char. “The flow of materials in and out is really beautiful,” said a judge.
Custom Rural or Vacation House
San Miguel County, Colorado
Architect: John Cottle, FAIA, principal; Todd Kennedy, AIA, principal in charge; Jenny Trumble, project architect, CCY Architects, Basalt, Colorado
Builder: Dave Gerber Construction, Telluride, Colorado
Interior Designer: Arnelle Kase, Finding Home Design, San Francisco; Heather Madden, Maya Design Studio, San Francisco
Landscape Architect: Kristin Undhjem, Telluride
Engineers: Resource Engineering Group, Crested Butte, Colorado
Project size: 3,149 square feet (main house); 999 square feet (garage); 160 square feet (sauna)
Site Size: 75 acres
Construction Cost: Withheld
Photography credit: ©2023 CCY Architects; Draper White; Jeremy Bittermann
Cladding: Copper, custom profile, pre-patina; Delta Millworks Accoya Barnwood in Delta Black (exterior accents)
Cooktop/Range/Cooking Ventilation/Ovens/Microwave Drawer/Outdoor Grill: Wolf
Decking: Western red cedar
Door Hardware: Sun Valley Bronze
Entry doors: Custom steel, pre-patina
Fireplaces: Isokern; Ortal
Faucets: Blanco; Dornbracht; Fantini
HVAC: High-efficiency condensing modulation boiler; in-floor radiant heat
Insulation: Rockwool; closed cell foam
Lighting: Tech Lighting
Lighting Control: Lutron
Paints: Benjamin Moore
Sinks: Julien (kitchen); custom
Thermal/Moisture Barriers: Grace Ice and Water Shield; Tyvek Housewrap
Toilets: Blu Bathworks
Towel Heater: VOLA
Windows/Window wall systems: Arcadia Custom, thermal steel