Text description provided by the architects. A young family desired to build a retreat on a large lot located outside Jackson Hole, Wyoming in bucolic Teton County, Idaho. The design locates the house amidst an expansive wetland that fluctuates seasonally. A small, spring-fed creek to the south supports a healthy cutthroat trout population. To the east and west are spectacular mountain views and from the south blows a consistent wind.
The architecture works in response by elevating utilities, structure and program to address the fluctuations of the site and to minimize the impact to the delicate ecosystem. Efforts were focused to preserve and restore the site’s diverse landscape by minimizing the building footprint – resulting in a compact, efficient layout which focused on building “up” instead of “out”. This strategy stays light on the ground and allows the primary programs of the house to raise above the wetland vegetation to take in all the site has to offer. The Grand Tetons become visible to the east and the trekking of moose becomes appreciable. The sky, landscape and wildlife change dramatically over the course of a day and a season.
The analytical as well as the interpretive analysis of the site not only informed the location and orientation of the house but also helped inform the programmatic layout of the house in both plan and section. Offset forms which separate public and private zones create both clerestory windows that daylight and ventilate and a double-high, sky lit circulation zone. The program is arranged with the main living area and master suite located on the upper floor to capture the expansive views. Prominent moments are framed through monumental glazed openings, which directly access covered porches. The deep roof overhangs provide shading and coverage from the region’s unforgiving and ever-changing weather.
The material palette of earthen rock and stained wood works to tie the architecture to the tones, materials and textures of the region, all to help create an architecture that is derived from the site. The house, floating above the landscape, becomes a wonderful retreat in a truly unique environment.