Four Roof House – Merit Award

Inspired by the Montana landscape, Four Roof House is rugged yet refined. Clad entirely in standing seam weathering steel, the envelope will patina over time, providing protection from the constantly changing environment, which can include 30 degree temperature swings, wildfires and high snowfall.

Four interconnected roof peaks follow the meandering floor plan below, climbing organically like the surrounding mountains. The tented peaks serve to capture and define the space within while directing views out to the surrounding powerful natural landscape.


This project shows a way forward for homes at all scales. It is architecturally interesting and intriguing in ways a variety of practitioners can be motivated by. The manipulation of the “thickness of the roof” to introduce daylight results in an architectural feature that enhances the experience of the different spaces.

Noteworthy performance features include:

1. Native vegetation and FSC lumber used throughout the project

2. Innovative method of introducing natural lighting

//framework for design excellence measures
Measure 1: Design for Integration
Measure 2: Design for Equitable Communities
Measure 3: Design for Ecosystems
As the client chose the location of the site for the beauty of it’s natural environment, maintaining and supporting this environment became a driving factor in the design. Native field grasses and wildflowers were used throughout the landscape, propigated locally in a green house previously built on the property. The natural patina of the Corten steel was chosen in part because of its ability to blend in with the rust colored stones and vegetation of the landscape.
Measure 4: Design for Water
All water for the project is supplied from a site-drilled well. Plumbing fixtures were specified to meet “water sense” goals for indoor plumbing and reduce the overall water use in the house while the use of a heat-pump negates the need for water use in cooling.
Measure 5: Design for Economy
Exterior finishes were chosen for their low maintenence, even in a harsh environment, thus reducing the overall life cycle costs to maintian the house over the long term.
Measure 6: Design for Energy
Use of overhang on west side of the building to reduce direct light during summer. There are operable windows have been installed on every side of the building to promote cross ventilation. The main heating system is radiant tubes embedded in gypcrete, which creates thermal mass on the floor. There is an additional forced air system that helps preventing condensation on the large windows during the coldest months. The basement is insulated and conditioned.
Measure 7: Design for Well-Being
Natural daylight was a particular focus of the project. The two skylights located in the Kitchen / Living / Dining areas of the house became not only a way to increase the overall light levels for an older client, but were also designed as a poetic ocnterpoint to the large window walls open to the landscape. Daylight was studied extensively through both digital models and and series of 1/2″=1′-0″ physical models. Natural ventilation was incorporated into every inhabitable room, with all the primary public spaces having at least three operable windows to promote cross breezes.
Measure 8: Design for Resources
As a means to reduce material waste and embodied carbon, the new wood frame, steel-clad home was built on top of a concrete foundation that existed on the site, poured for an abandoned project started by a previous owner over 15 years ago. After an analysis by the builder and structural engineer, it was determined that the foundation still maintined its structural integrity, and so the design team incorporated it into the overal layout of the house.
Measure 9: Design for Change
All materials of the house were chosen for their properties to natural weather while maintaining their beauty with minimum upkeep. Drastic climate swings in the area, with recorded highs of 95 deg to -50 deg below, the materials were required to be robust. Corten steel was a natural choice for this reason as well as the ability to resist the wildfires that are occuring with greater frequency in the region.
Measure 10: Design for Discovery
Light Reflectors – The invention of the “reflectors” in the main living spaces of the house were a direct response to competing demands, a desire to connect the interior experience with the natural environment through the constantly changing natural light, while still protecting the clients art collection from harmful UV light. Inspired by Louis Kahn’s Kimbell Museum, the surfaces of the vaulted ceilings are kept clean, emphasizing their volume, while a pyramidal form reflects the sunlight back onto the ceiling vaults during the day and uses integrated LED fixtures to simulate a similar natural lighting atmosphere at night.
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