Kicking Horse Residence, which was named as one of the ten recipients of the American Institute of Architects' 2014 Housing Awards earlier this week, was designed by Bohlin Cywinski Jackson as a weekend retreat that can accommodate the family and their guests, but can also be left unoccupied for long periods of time.
"The clients desired a weekend gathering place for their active family of five that would allow for flexibility to accommodate larger groups of family and friends, and provide a direct connection to the outdoors for seasonal recreation," said the architect.
A forest of aspen and spruce trees surrounds the site, so timber was chosen as the primary building material. But unlike the typical wooden lodges of the region, the house features an angular structure intended to reflect the clients' Scandinavian heritage.
"The Kicking Horse Residence is a family retreat that uses evocative forms to embrace the natural world," said the architect.
The three-storey house is made up of two wings, connected by a central staircase. The largest of the two is an asymmetric volume accommodating the main living and sleeping spaces, while its rectilinear partner contains a family room offering views of the mountain peaks.
The building nestles into the slope of the site, creating entrances on both the lower and middle levels. The first functions as the main access and the second is a landing providing access to nearby ski and bicycle trails.
Bedrooms are scattered throughout the house. Three sleeping spaces are located in the loft, while two master bedrooms sit at opposite ends of the middle storey, creating a cantilever at the front of the building.
The base of the house is surrounded by concrete and contains a garage, a mudroom and a play space for the children.
Here's a project description from Bohlin Cywinski Jackson:
Kicking Horse Residence
The clients desired a weekend gathering place for their active family of five that would allow for flexibility to accommodate larger groups of family and friends and provide a direct connection to the outdoors for seasonal recreation. They requested careful arrangement of the program to maintain privacy on the narrow lot between two neighbouring residences, while focusing on the views and providing direct access to nearby ski and bike trails.
While Kicking Horse Mountain resort is a relatively new ski destination, the majority of the custom homes in the area still take the form of traditional timber structures. The clients appreciated the intimate scale and warmth of traditional mountain lodges but wished to explore the possibility of creating a Modernist cabin more rooted in their Scandinavian heritage that connected directly to the landscape. The sloping site is adjacent to a ski trail and surrounded by a forest of aspen and spruce trees. Located between two neighbouring residences, the careful arrangement of program maintains privacy through the thoughtful composition of windows, while focusing on the views and providing access to the nearby ski and bike trails.
The house is composed of two primary elements: a dense bar along the northern edge of the site containing the sleeping and bath spaces, and an open shell with living and dining spaces oriented toward the extraordinary mountain views. A central stair volume links these two forms, with the main entrance at the lower level and an upper landing for ski access on the west side.
The linear form of the sleeping spaces cantilevers over a board-formed concrete base containing the garage, mudroom, and playroom. A standing seam metal roof folds over the peak to become an articulated wall with operable vents, bringing light and air into the loft spaces. These lofts contain bunk beds that allow flexible sleeping arrangements for children or guests.
Anchored by a tall concrete fireplace, the geometric form containing the living and dining spaces floats above the forest floor, allowing natural drainage patterns to flow uninterrupted through the site. Plywood-clad walls and ceiling planes extend to the exterior, framing alpine views and sheltering an outdoor deck.
Given its function as a weekend retreat, the house was designed to perform for extended periods without occupancy. The design inherently reduces exposure to natural drainage patterns by limiting the building footprint, and we worked directly with the contractor to detail the below grade drainage system to perform most efficiently for the soils on site. Electrical, heating, and security systems are monitored and controlled remotely so the client is made immediately aware of any issues, and an emergency generator was supplied in case of power outage.
The evocative forms of the house are oriented to capture daylight and views to the stunning mountain peaks above, but also act to effectively shed snow from the massive storms that move through the area. The client chose a local general contractor, native to the Golden, BC area, with a long history of building in remote areas. They enjoy both the craft involved in building intricate wooden structures from locally sourced timbers and also heading outdoors after a day of hard work.
Wood is a primary natural resource in this region. The local Louisiana Pacific Mill is a lifeline for the town of Golden, and a project goal was to express the natural diversity of wood in the architecture.