LocationBoulder, United States
Text description provided by the architects. The Sunshine Canyon house, designed for a family of four, is located on a high alpine hillside in a rocky canyon five miles above Boulder. A small cabin, surrounded by a dense forest of pine and fir trees, once occupied the site. In 2010, the Four Mile Canyon fire ravaged this property, burning the cabin and 4.5 acres of 100 year-old trees to the ground. When the ash had settled, what remained were granite outcrops, steep slopes, and newly revealed expansive vistas. The barren site eerily resembled the treeless landscape of Boulder at the turn of the century. Rediscovering the architectural language of that era―particularly the region’s mining and agricultural heritage―provided the necessary design inspiration. While the home’s gabled roof form and rustic materials recall the area’s early vernacular, the design seeks to establish a language of its own―reflective of and specific to its current context and geographic location.
The stepped form of the house provides a counterbalance to the site’s rugged features. A prominent granite outcropping establishes the datum and links the home to the landscape via a steel footbridge. The structure is inserted into the adjacent hillside allowing the home to visually cascade down the site’s natural contours. Two linear volumes―one containing family living space, the other bedrooms―are stacked and rotated to optimize solar access and to capture different views from each room. The cantilevered forms create shady, protected spaces below and sun-filled living spaces above.
Exposed beams (with 85% recycled content), rusted steel cladding, and industrial-size barn doors visually link the home to the community’s rural roots, but principally serve to create a fire- resistant, maintenance- free structure.
A 3.5kW photo-voltaic array, combined with high efficiency electric appliances and LED lighting, produce an average monthly electric bill of $9. Closed and open cell foam insulation, double and triple pane windows with low-e glass, and rolling barn door shutters keep the house cool in the summer and warm in the winter. Heating is provided with a 96% efficiency boiler, hydronic radiant floor tubing, and a high efficiency wood burning stove. A light, open plan, with few walls allows daylight and breezes to naturally filter through all sides of the home.