Ark House by Axis Mundi


New York studio Axis Mundi have designed a house for a mountainside in Montana, USA, which incorporates a 60 foot internal bridge

Called Ark House, the building will have an entrance hall at one end sheltered by one of two steeply-sloping roof structures.

From here residents will cross to the main house in the other end of the long narrow building, either by ascending to a platform that cantilevers out over both sides of the house or via a bridge over a three-storey atrium below.

Living areas and bedrooms in the four-storey home will each look out over the mountainside at one end, and into the atrium at the other.

The information below is from Axis Mundi:

ARK HOUSE by Axis Mundi
Madison Valley, Montana, USA

The design for this residence can been likened to the discovery of an archaic sailing vessel, beached on a mountainside, as if a great ocean receded in the ancient past.


Montana's Western mountains have been lifted and folded by plate tectonics and sculpted by glaciers over millions of years. The project is situated on a sloping windswept bluff overlooking Beaver Head National Forest with extraordinary views of Big Sky Mountain.

In a world which is increasingly becoming placeless, our clients requested that we design their home with cultural specificity. It should be of its time, yet be part of the place they love - the vast ancient landscape of Montana.


The overall design is a long barn-like structure bisected across the center by an enormous cantilevered observation deck of nearly 4800 sq. ft.

Half of the main form is an open shell which serves as an entrance pavilion. It contains only a staircase leading up to the observation deck. From the deck, one can enter the main house in the other half. There is an alternate, sheltered path under the deck, opening behind the staircase. Fabricated from Corten steel and glass, a 60-foot bridge spans a 3-story atrium space below.

Top Down Plan

On the uppermost level of the house is the main living space which includes kitchen, dining and living areas. Two staircases lead down to bedrooms on three lower levels.

All of the floors have breath-taking mountain views at one end and look in to the atrium at the other. The atrium walls are lined with a Corten steel trellis. A lily pond resides at the base.


This home features near-zero energy use thanks to a high performance building envelope, a geothermal heating and cooling system, and photovoltaic panels that produce as much energy as the home needs each year. The 100-acre site preserves the native landscape.

Axis Mundi is a dynamic interdisciplinary design practice based in New York.

Design: John Beckmann
Design Team: John Beckmann, Ronald Dapsis, Masaru Ogasawara and Natacha Mankowski
Renderings: Ronald Dapsis and Masaru Ogasawara

Total sq. ft.: 10,200 including 4,800 sq. ft. observation deck.
Materials: Reclaimed oak siding and beams, Corten steel, glass, photovoltaic standing seam roof, CMU, steel sub-structure.

See also:


Posted on Wednesday April 21st 2010 at 4:40 pm by Catherine Warmann. Copyright policy | Comments policy

  • the bad one

    how many cows can you count from the ‘observation deck’ ??

  • Beautiful, Dramatic, Cowfull!

  • Booh

    Vikings meet Modern! YES!

  • roadkill

    “Beautiful, Dramatic, Cowfull” are not the right adjectives to describe this project. Ok, maybe with the exception of Cowfull or full of cow…

  • Matthias

    Insane. I like it. I need more Montana to break up my daily boredom.

    The deck does not offer any creature comfort and would look out of proportion even on an aircraft carrier. Good luck with the uplift forces.
    On a formal note – the middle part would better explain itself, had the deck looked like two flaps of an open toolbox, having the same geometry as the roof. The curved cantilever beams look out of place.

  • WillM

    this looks like something out of sky captain and the world of tomorrow.

    I like a lot of things about it but question the size of the viewing “deck” as it is larger than necessary.

    But hey if you have the money why not….

  • Shanglo_Sha

    i’d imagine that’s about all you could do in place like that.

  • rodger

    nice renderings. nice folly but not fit for human habitation. living here would have all the charm of being incarcerated on rykers island.

  • R

    A very promising first image but then a really disappointing continuation in both project itself as its representation.

  • Gus

    la vache! ;)

  • Willy


  • Andy

    renderings are kinda poetic, but isn’t it totally under structured for that kind of dramatic pitch? The way it looks, the wind would take that roof in no time.

  • junihaoni

    i like how the middle deck looks like a squished pitch roof.

  • George


  • I wouldn’t mind to spend my days on that deck counting cows

  • And as you know black cows give coffe, white cows, milk. White and black cows, a coffe with milk

  • Totally agree with R.
    The bridge looks awful, and I still wonder why you need to make such an effort to make and climb to the deck while you enter through a long tunnel with no outlook…
    Axis Mundi might be an interdisciplinary team, but without architects certainly !

  • It’s funny to speak about sustainability an d to plan a building like this. It is contradictorily!

  • bob


  • Gustavo K

    It´s Coow!

  • Sid

    I will be there when the flood comes!

  • Magnificent :)
    it’s a part of beautiful story

  • TW

    As Margarethe says, there is no point paying lip service to sustainability when you design something so over indulgent and with such a large footprint.

  • R. Berengena

    It looks interesting at first glance, but it seems unnecessarily bound to the rectangular constraint of the living envelope. There is an iconic aspect to the hard lines of the box and A frames, but the living spaces do not seem to have much of a relationship to the geographic context. What are the bedrooms like? The kitchen?
    There is very little information about either.

    After a while I think the spaces under the triangular sections would start to get boring.

  • John Powell

    Sustainability knows no size limitations TW, regardless of ostentation – mind you, there are a number of excessively bloated government structures seeking LEED certification, a real sad commentary on a faltering America steering far away from its foundation of liberty in lieu of tyranny. This “home” is wonderful – I would love to live there for a week or two.

  • “A world which is increasingly becoming placeless.” What are they talking about? Build this blot on a beautiful landscape and you’re going to spoil another ‘place’. What are the atriums for, are they going to keep their livestock in them? What happens come winter in Montana? If all the floors have “breathtaking mountain views”, what is the point of the platforms? Having said all that, I do it a fabulous statement building but I read all the blurb thinking its a building totally out of context, then read the practice is based in New York. Figures?

  • Jotte

    needs more cowbell

  • has anyone ever seen such a project?