Outside/Inside House – Deer Lodge, MT

Redefining the mountain rustic cabin is a challenge of integrating vernacular, regionalism, and a touch of modernism. Early in discussions with the client, we identified a driving force for the project. The concept we explored was the interaction of the house with the site, and creation of space that felt part of the surrounding forest, blurring the line between the outside and inside spaces of the house.

The site offers stunning views of Rock Creek, yet is situated at a narrow point between the creek and a public access road. Overcoming this challenge was punctuated by the topography — a rock hogback ridge that ran the length of the property, dropping to the creek below on one side and to the access road on the other. The topography and narrow site pushed the design toward a linear floor plan that could be perched on top of the ridge and work with the oxbow of the creek below.

The solution is a unity of vernacular architectural forms with familiar materials, blended to create a revised vision of the mountain rustic cabin. The spaces are opened up to allow light and air to move through them. The home fosters a close relationship with the landscape and the site, and the study became a jewel for the home: a programmatic requirement stated it have the best views possible. Thus, views of the creek became the central node around which the rest of the spaces are organized.

To maximize the views and connection to the exterior, the study is cantilevered eight feet over the edge of the topography creating a glass viewing box with views up and down the bend of Rock Creek. The main living space is the culmination of the outside/inside house. The living room and kitchen are opened to a screened, open-air, outdoor living space with the use of large, operable glazing units. When both units are open, the house is truly one with the site, as it is permeated with cool breezes and the sounds of moving water.

The massing and material of the house is a study in privacy and exposure. The main facade facing the road seeks to provide a protected presence; solid walls with small punched openings ,and a solid interior wall protect the glass hall to the master bedroom. The facade is highly opaque, with the exception of the entry, which allows a sneak preview to the creek through a glass breezeway. The back of the house facing Rock Creek is completely transparent and opened up with glazing. The intent of the design was to make the walls disappear, creating a feeling you are living amongst trees rather than in a house.