Built on the site of a wildfire that razed swaths of trees outside Boulder only three years ago – and claimed the homeowners’ previous house – Sunshine Canyon Residence represents a fresh start. The new structure, close to the location of the one that burned down, is on a steeply sloping site offering exquisite views of the canyons from its 2,300-metre perch, yet is only a seven-minute drive from downtown Boulder.
“The slope required that we come up with a unique way to anchor the building to the site,” says THA principal Corey Martin. Forsaking the poured-concrete slabs of traditional spread footings, he explains, “We decided to support the house on point footings to minimize the amount of excavation and site disturbance.”
The floor plan is conceived as a massive horizontal bar that hovers above the hillside. At one end, the area that houses the garage and entryway seems to be sheared from the rest of the structure and pulled back towards the topography, a gesture that distinguishes the entrance while creating additional opportunities for views from within. Clad in planks of ipé wood and sheets of rusted corrugated steel, the exterior appears simultaneously modern and thoroughly settled into its rustic environment.
The great room at the heart of the 205-square-metre interior is distinguished by its unusual windows: knee-high openings that help to fill the room with ambient light while maintaining privacy to the north. To the south, overlooking the drop to the canyon below, the house is almost entirely glazed – a move that not only capitalizes on the view, but also allows the exposed concrete flooring to soak in the sun and absorb radiant heat. A geothermal heat pump provides an additional boost during the winter months. Along with on-site PV panels, this passive strategy allows the house to approach net-zero energy performance.
Predominantly white walls and casework made from rift-sawn white oak augment the ample sunshine, giving the space its light and airy feel. In summer, the massive glazed doors leading to the deck can be rolled back, extending the living space onto the ipé deck. Classic functional furnishings – including Eames shell chairs, Emeco’s Navy chairs and Tolix’s café chairs in a sunny yellow – complete the look.
The house’s most majestic view was reserved for the master bedroom, where a window runs the entire length of the west wall, with an extra deep sill that provides enough room to sit and take in the vista. “It’s designed to focus your view down to the burned ridgeline beyond the house when you’re standing,” says Martin. “When you’re lying in bed it frames the horizon and the sky.”