AN IDAHO HOUSE
General Contractor: Mark Pynn - Completed 2004
An 1800 square foot residence located in the central Idaho mountains, an environment of mountain foothills and high desert native plants and sagebrush. The design of the building is predicated on the owners desire to express the best of current residential construction technology, energy efficiency, aesthetics, and the notion of what a contemporary “Idaho Building’ should be.
In an area where large “Neo-Lodge” mansions abound, and massive egos and budgets rule, this tiny building attempts to make a strong architectural statement with quality construction on a modest budget.
The building’s form was carefully studied and developed to fit into the existing topography and blend into the landscape. A horizontal design with the main floor cantilevered over the subterranean garage, and generous cantilevered roofs make the building appear to be “of the hill”.
By gracefully fitting on to its site, this house provides spacious living without creating a large footprint on the land. The layout of the interior areas is based upon efficient use of open space centered around a central stone fireplace “heart “ of the home. Considerable use of custom built-in cabinetry, designed by the architect, provides the most efficient use of space. Abundant natural light and proper orientation to spectacular surrounding views were also prime considerations for the buildings location on the land.
A modular system of design was incorporated in the layout of this building to facilitate efficient use of conventional building materials and provide appropriate scale and proportion. The building’s exterior shell has been dimensioned to conform to optimum value engineering layout standards for the most efficient use of lumber. Horizontally, a four by eight grid has been used to best facilitate standard building panel sizes without waste and to provide even layouts for concrete forming. This layout is celebrated in the honest expression of control joints and ceiling panel joint trim. Vertically, a 16” module was used to assure compliance with standard window and door dimensions and precut stud lengths providing typical wall heights. Strict adherence to this vertical module throughout the exterior and interior finish materials provides the visitor with a sense of visual unity and consistent order.
The exterior materials have been carefully selected to respond and blend into this harsh yet beautiful environment while providing a low maintenance finish. Celebrating Idaho’s past, and the achievements of Idaho inventors in a contemporary context are other important design aspects required of these materials. The architect designed galvanized sheet steel siding provides a durable – no maintenance exterior finish, selected to naturally age and blend (with horizontal sage green battens) into the sagebrush and native grassland. The galvanized steel siding also pays historical respect to the traditional agricultural building found throughout Idaho.
Interior materials were chosen to celebrate the natural environment and the best of Idaho as well. Native Idaho invented structural framing elements continue from the outside to the interior in the form of exposed, natural composite wood beams and ceiling panels. The concrete floors are made up of native aggregates from a nearby river. Polished on the interior and exposed on the exterior slabs, these aggregates emulate the streambeds found throughout Idaho. Natural Birch cabinets, flooring, ceiling panels, and trim are found throughout the house to honor and reflect the native aspen trees so prevalent in this area. The central stone fireplace is made of Idaho quartzite quarried from an area near the site.
Careful consideration has been paid to appropriate snow country and energy efficient design as well. The use of “flat” roofs with low slopes leading to central (naturally warm) internal drains, and broad overhangs, provide snow protection without drips. The utilities are centrally located and housed in the central fireplace mass – another appropriate snow country response. The floors, walls, and ceilings are super-insulated to conserve energy, and the windows are glazed with energy efficient glazing. The central fireplace mass is positioned to efficiently radiate heat to the interior at all sides.