This 950 square foot guesthouse is the first phase of a master plan for a 5-acre sloping wooded property owned by the architect and his wife in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. The design was intended to immerse the owners in the experience of the forest both visually and aurally. Through its siting near a stream that provides the sound of rushing water, and large windows that open the intimately scaled rooms to the outside, the house creates the feeling of actually being in the woods. In keeping with its setting and a reductive sensibility, the house is a simple rectangle oriented on an east-west axis that mediates between the forest on three sides and the stream and a clearing to the north. A detached garage set among a stand of mature fir trees completes the composition. Within the compact plan limited by zoning to 1,000 square feet, are a bedroom and bath at the east and west ends of the house separated by a glass-enclosed central living room containing a small, but fully equipped galley kitchen.
A disciplined use of materials gives cohesion to this small outbuilding, with cedar shingles and bonderized steel on the exterior and white oak floors, doors and millwork on the inside. Small bedrooms with large corner windows heighten the effect of truly living in the woods. Outdoor decks take advantage of the stream on the north and dappled sunlight on the south. The wooded site ruled out any active solar systems, but it is passively heated with the large south facing windows, and supplemental heat is provided by a wood burning stove in the central room. The structure is super-insulated frame construction with simple shed roofs on both house and garage. The landscape design integrates the house into the site by preserving mature aspen and firs, and using boulders excavated during the construction process for retaining walls and a dry wash to divert the spring runoff.