DNA Alpine | San Miguel County - Colorado | 2021


DNA Alpine | San Miguel County - Colorado | 2021

DNA Alpine | San Miguel County - Colorado | 2021

Architects: CCY Architects
Lead Architects:Todd Kennedy and Jenny Trumble & John Cottle
General Contractor: Gerber Construction, Inc.
Client: Withheld
Photographers: Draper White Photography, Jeremy Bittermann Photography


DNA Alpine | San Miguel County - Colorado | 2021
DNA Alpine | San Miguel County - Colorado | 2021
DNA Alpine | San Miguel County - Colorado | 2021

Project Description

For this house in the high alpine reaches of Colorado’s San Juan Mountains, the architects were challenged to create an artful house that would be deferential to the site, amplify its revered beauty and be tough enough to withstand extreme climate. Establishing what would become the project’s footprint was a key priority. With intimate knowledge of the 70-acre site, the clients desired to live on the north edge of a meadow, beneath towering Engelmann Spruce trees, which all needed to remain undisturbed.

The design team undertook a meticulous site analysis in both quantitative and qualitative terms, establishing a program split into three smaller buildings: a main house, sauna, and garage. The building roof forms shift and fold with the sloping landscape, preserving the gently undulating meadow beyond, while also allowing interior spaces to open up to views of the mountains and intimate snapshots of the surrounding forest. In order to fit between the trees, the design team optimized the program, paring it down without losing any desired functions.

Multi-purpose rooms were designed to be used as interchangeable spaces, including an office, den, and bedroom. In addition, behind the fireplace, an intimate reading corner connects to the outside, and a sleeping nook is tucked under the sloping roof on the second level to add as much functionality throughout the tight floorplan. Clad in copper, this 4,000 square foot house provides a crafted enclosure designed to meet the needs of the everchanging mountain weather conditions at 10,000 feet. The house was also designed to be closed off while unoccupied. At the main entry, a full-height door enables the clients to secure the house when not in use, protecting it from heavy snowfall and the elements. Inspired by the owner’s interest in synthetic biology, the copper facade is composed of a series of four metal profiles arranged in a non-repetitive pattern derived from the DNA sequence of the Engelmann Spruce trees that tower over the land.

The facade wraps continuously around the structure. The siding’s shifting, slightly reflective patterns create an interactive experience on the site a dynamic camouflage in changing daylight, which will continue to patina with each passing season. The design is modest and subservient, allowing the site to remain a sanctuary. The DNA sequence, ever present and unseen, underscores the subtleties of the landscape and the beauty of deferring to it. Employing resilient exterior materials and built to the highest quality, the design anticipates that this house will endure over multiple generations, inspiring future interest in environmental stewardship and a lasting passion for this beloved alpine setting.