Located on an historic farmstead in Wabaunsee County, Kansas, Illinois Creek Ranch was designed for a family of five and their summer guests. The goal was to forge an emotional bond between people and a unique landscape. Structures were purposefully straightforward in their vernacular appearance with a focus on innovative, nuanced detailing and contemporary material selection. The design team began by studying the site – the topography, soil and hydrological conditions, wind and sun patterns. To the north sits the crest of a hill, gently sloping towards the south side of the ranch in curving waves. At the south end of the site, a man-made pond, barn and cattle pastures. Embracing the house typology of the area was just a starting point for the structure; the house was positioned just to the south of the crest of the hill, and designed as part of a broader ranch compound, the only contemporary addition since the early 20th century. Site conditions and family function dictated the design of four, separate wings, each a simple rectangular volume with a pitched roof. The house runs parallel to topography to accommodate single story program, and turns perpendicular to topography for multiple story program. Each wing strategically blocks constant wind to allow for comfortable outdoor areas, while windows were positioned to allow passive cooling inside the home. Buildings were positioned to take full advantage of seasonal solar heat gain.
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