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Married to the land – vacation home by Architects Dirk Danker and Jim Nagle

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This home by Dirk Danker achieves a natural aesthetic

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With a love of a pristine land comes a respect for it, and one way to celebrate this is to design a house that commands views, but not attention.

This holiday home nestles on a high plateau surrounded by mountain peaks and deciduous forest. Architects Dirk Danker and Jim Nagle, of Nagle Hartray Architecture, designed the home in the post-and-beam style as this allowed a high glazing-to-structure ratio – a major plus for a house intended to celebrate its surroundings.

The house comprises three principal forms. The most dramatic is a two-storey pavilion that contains most public spaces – the living room, dining area, kitchen and breakfast room, with a study-den in the loft. Running alongside this volume, a gallery links the building to two smaller, two-level structures that house a media room, bedrooms and the garage.

"Sliding doors on three sides and two levels of the pavilion infill the post-and-beam design, so when all doors are pulled open, the interiors merge with the outdoors," says Danker.

Despite sitting on a promontory, the house is grounded within the rugged setting, largely due to the architect's choice of naturally weathering materials, most sourced locally.


The exterior is clad in western red cedar, with bronzed Spanish cedar windows and a chimney built from local stone.

"The interiors also merge with the setting in material terms, with a similar stone used on the gallery floors on both levels," says Danker. "The walls and ceilings are finished in pine, stained to the same tone as the exterior timber. The area is subject to driving winds and snow, so steel columns were needed, but they are wrapped in timber to fit the natural aesthetic."

At the centre of the pavilion there is a large double-height atrium, measuring 8m x 10m. This affords views up through the airy volume and down from the upper gallery and study-loft lounge to the living and dining area. The loft lounge is positioned directly above the kitchen and breakfast area, screening these spaces from overhead scrutiny.

While the pavilion is a picture of glass framed by timber beams, the ancillary buildings feature a generous use of solid timber cladding. These have a separated-off quality, with mainly wood cladding seen from within the pavilion.

The expansive residence responds to and respects its environment in another way, too.

This was the first house in the area to gain approval for so much glazing, and the trade-off was demonstrating energy efficiency in other ways, says Keith Benjamin, project manager for constructors Teton Heritage Builders.

"A rainscreen cladding system is used on all sides of the house, even on the beams. With air circulating behind the wood, this system ensures any expansion or contraction caused by extreme temperature fluctuations occurs equally on the inner and outer side of the skin, so there is no damage to the cedar.

"Behind the rainscreen and protected by it, is an efficient thermal envelope that includes low-e double-glazed windows to minimise energy use for heating and cooling."

"The technical nature of the skin and a style of building where most elements are exposed called for a high degree of precision in all aspects of design and construction," says Danker. "Despite its rugged appeal, the home also offers every high-tech convenience – remote controls and sleek touch-pads are in use throughout."

First published date: 06 October 2013

Credit List

Architect, interior designer, kitchen designer Dirk Danker AIA, Jim Nagle, FAIA, Nagle Hartray Architecture (Chicago, IL); project team, Rocco Castellano AIA, Hannah Davenport, Monica Gruse-Hartman
Structural engineer Graef-USA
Builder Teton Heritage Builders NAHB, project manager Keith Benjamin, superintendent Russ Weaver
Kitchen manufacturer Nagle Hartray Architecture
Roofing Thermoplastic olefin (TPO), zinc copings
Cladding Western red cedar
Windows and exterior doors Dynamic Architectural Windows and Doors, in Spanish cedar
Interior doors Custom, in book-matched, quarter-sawn maple
Flooring Slate in running-bond pattern; quarter-sawn white oak, random length
Wallcoverings Western red cedar by Teton Heritage Builders; Sherwin-Williams paint
Lighting Halo, Lightolier, Alkco, Bega, Vortech, Juno
Heating Warmboard® Radiant subfloor; Carrier® Forced Air
Furniture Room & Board, CB2, Knoll, Bernhardt, Kl, Herman Miller, Crate & Barrel
Home theatre Custom, installed by Audio Video Specialists
Audiovisual equipment Crestron®
Blinds Sivoia QED roller by Lutron, wood blinds by Hunter Douglas
Kitchen cabinetry Custom quarter-sawn maple veneer, book matched
Benchtops Quartzite
Kitchen sink Stainless steel by Franke
Taps Grohe
Range, ventilation, microwave, refrigerator, dishwasher Viking
Waste disposal GE
Fireplace Custom, Rumford
Art Diehl Gallery