Mork-Ulnes Architects designed a vacation house in Sugar Bowl, California for a three generation family consisting of a retired couple, their three children and partners and seven grandchildren.
The owners, a retired couple in their 70s, commissioned Mork-Ulnes Architects to design a vacation house for their three children and partners, and seven grandchildren: three ski-loving generations whose older members have been skiing in the area since the 1940’s.
Tucked away in the mountains and nestled into a high alpine forest, the design responds to the owners’ desire for a modernist, rather secluded refuge with a constant visual reference to nature. The site is, in this sense, rather atypical to a mountain setting in that it minimizes expansive lookouts, while in fact emphasizing views towards the glade intimacy of the adjacent landscape, thus allowing for the remote and sheltered retreat the clients were seeking.
The building footprint was kept as compact as possible to settle quietly into the site, yet also capture filtered views of the surrounding landscape. The inspiring concept is that of a tree house that, as if suspended between treetops, seamlessly and ingeniously blends with its surroundings.
The house is essentially elevated on a concrete plinth that allows its inhabitants, when snow settles in winter, to use the protected base as a changing and storage room for ski gear. The second floor thus effectively becomes the house’s entry level accessible both through the enclosed staircase on the first floor and, in the summer, through an external staircase that leads to the southern terrace.
The large space of the living room and of the dining room with its open-plan kitchen is wholly glazed toward the west and south, opening up the interior to the outdoors. In the summer, the family can enjoy a semi-external terrace, protected by the roof overhangs; in the cold winter months they can retreat to the inner living room while still capturing views of the thick canopy of evergreen trees.
Troll Hus, Sugar Bowl, California
Architect: Mork-Ulnes Architects
Design team: Greg Ladigin, Anatoly Starr, Lexie Mork-Ulnes, Casper Mork-Ulnes, Kyle Anderson
Interior and furniture design: Lexie Mork-Ulnes Interior Design
Structural engineer: Gabbart & Woods Structural Engineers
Civil engineer: Ferrell Civil Engineering
Contractor: Barth Construction
Area: 310 smq