Wednesday, September 16, 2009
Canyon House | Salt Lake City, Utah | Grunsfeld Shafer Architects
Located at the mouth of the Little Cottonwood Canyon just south of Salt Lake City, Utah, Canyon House is sited on a steep and rugged foothill and takes full advantage of its spectacular mountainous environs.
With a low profile and its emphasized horizontality, nearly half of the three-story house is buried below grade to reduce its apparent mass and respect the natural terrain.
The house consists of three components: a Pavilion, a Parterre, and a Box, all of which heighten one’s awareness of the terrain through their spatial arrangement on the site.
Movement is effortless when walking along the mountain such as in the Pavilion’s hallway flanking the southern sculpture garden; but increases in difficulty as one communicates from level to level, moving against the natural grade.
The selection of materials indigenous to the mountainside are collaged together to reflect the primitive and natural beauty of the terrain through the use of exposed structural steel, architectural concrete, native rock, cedar, and glass mosaic tiles, whose colors are reminiscent of the earth’s minerals.
The Pavilion’s form is defined by a sculptural roof that floats above an expansive living room and several bedrooms which embrace the solitude of native grasses, wild flowers, scrub oak, granite outcroppings, and wildlife.
Completely exposed, the living room features eighteen-foot high sheets of canted glass which contort toward panoramas of brilliant sunsets and thunderstorms that frequently engulf the Great Salt Lake valley and nearby Antelope Island.
The Parterre provides exterior spaces for lounging and entertaining, both in winter and summer; extensions of interior spaces or interstitial spaces between the house’s components. The simple form and quiet demeanor of the Box houses both public and private spaces, including an exercise room, bathroom, ski storage room, and sauna on the lower level; kitchen, dining room, powder room, and closets on the first level; and the master bedroom and office on the upper level.
The Box’s highly controlled fenestration frames human-scaled views while providing a secluded and tranquil area which complements and contrasts with the voyeuristic transparency of the Pavilion.
Grunsfeld Shafer Architects website