ryker/nave design, livingston, mont.

Wyoming's rugged character tends to attract adventurous souls. Two of this intrepid breed found their way to Lori Ryker and Brett W. Nave, looking for a vacation house that's at once “aggressive and interesting” but respectful of its surroundings. The designers began by scouring the site for clues about how best to blend built and natural environments. The rocky landscape yielded their answer: “The dirt on the site happens to be the perfect aggregate for rammed-earth construction,” Ryker says.

And so, a 60-foot wall of rammed earth will anchor the long and lean floor plan and offer much-needed fortification from the extreme climate. The process is also earth-friendly, which Ryker and Nave consider with every project. Other sustainable but lighter finishes, such as 75 percent recycled-content steel and composite wood panels, will add contrast to the thick earth. The plans also incorporate high-tech methods that work with the weather rather than against it. “The 2-foot-thick rammed-earth wall has a 2-inch gap filled with rigid insulation,” Nave explains. “So when it's 20 degrees below zero outside, those temperatures won't come into the house.”

The jury appreciated the thought and research behind this project and commended the duo's innovative building systems and attractive design.

principals in charge / project designers: Brett W. Nave and Lori Ryker, Ryker/Nave Design
general contractor: Mike Cantalupo, Lost River Construction, West Yellowstone, Mont.
project size: 3,100 square feet
site size: 166 acres
construction cost: Projected $305 per square foot
renderings: Courtesy Ryker/Nave Design