CCY Architects has just completed a new, idyllic Colorado Rockies retreat. DNA Alpine, as the snowy project is called, was designed for a client who likes secluded getaways, and a place among nature where they can gather and spend time with extended family and friends. Located in San Miguel County, the home sits in a plot the owners were familiar with, as they often travel to this part of West Colorado to take part in outdoor activities, such as hiking, snowshoeing, and cross-country skiing.
Colorado Rockies retreat: DNA Alpine by CCY Architects
'The clients have owned the land for many years,' the architects write. 'They had long camped on site for overnight stays, but, over time, they wanted a more permanent dwelling, but one that conserved the landscape.' The design team obliged, assessing the land, its natural terrain and existing flora and fauna, in order to create a new dwelling in a respectful way, minimising its footprint and remaining in sync with its wooded surroundings.
By cleverly creating a series of multifunctional spaces – for instance, open-plan living interiors, and a study that doubles as a guest room – CCY Architects composed a home within three distinct volumes. These contain, respectively, a main house, a sauna, and the garage. This gesture allowed for flexibility in the programme's arrangement and the creation of a series of smaller structures – as opposed to one big one – which could easily fit between existing spruce trees.
At the same time, the cosy and adaptable interiors are made to provide the perfect alpine experience – featuring floor-to-ceiling windows that not only maximise solar exposure to help energy savings, but also offer sweeping views of nearby peaks and the San Juan Mountains in the distance.
Hard-wearing, vertical panels of copper, which will weather beautifully over time, clad the exterior of this Colorado Rockies retreat. These give way to warmer surfaces and natural materials inside, including timber, stone and a range of fabrics. Meanwhile, a clever design code in the outer skin is a nod to the clients' personal interests. 'The design team drew from the clients’ interest in synthetic biology, adapting the pattern produced by the DNA sequence of Engelmann spruce to inform the order of the panels. In this way, the genetic material of a tree species so important to this site creates the framework for the placement, angle, and size of the façade’s panels,' the architects explain.
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Ellie Stathaki is the Architecture Editor at Wallpaper*. She trained as an architect at the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki in Greece and studied architectural history at the Bartlett in London. Now an established journalist, she has been a member of the Wallpaper* team since 2006, visiting buildings across the globe and interviewing leading architects such as Tadao Ando and Rem Koolhaas. Ellie has also taken part in judging panels, moderated events, curated shows and contributed in books, such as The Contemporary House (Thames & Hudson, 2018) and Glenn Sestig Architecture Diary (2020).
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