The name of this modern dream home made by Mayer Sattler-Smith Architects comes from the client’s occupation. He is a professional dog musher, a four time champion of the 1,161 mile sled race from Anchorage to Nome.
The most interesting aspect of this project is definitely its amazing and one of a kind location. The client wanted to have view of the surrounding landscape from every room, so that he would be able to make the most of the building’s location. So, the L shaped house had to be carefully placed and the openings studied so that they would offer view angles that point to the secular forest and the high peaks. It isn’t just a house but a place of contemplation too. The project represents a courageous act, the act of conquering the wilderness and mastering it. That’s why this modern dream house is so special and bold. This cliff view mansion was placed on the highest hill for the best vantage point. The natural landscape provides the rest: an amazing overview of the entire serene valley, with its mirror like lakes and beautifully colored vegetation. The house itself is not an intruder and doesn’t feel like it doesn’t belong. On the contrary, especially in the aerial view, it seems that this modern dream home in the wild is much rather an addition to the landscape, the part of the puzzle that has been missing and now it’s here to complete it and give it meaning. Its materiality resembles, seen from afar, a great log, through both color texture and shape. There are no vertical accents so it doesn’t stand out. The dominating horizontality of the composition turn it into a neutral object which doesn’t compete with its surroundings.
Description from architects:
“House for a musher is situated on a 20 acre plot at the edge of a small town surrounded by small lakes and meadows. The site is on a hill, left behind by the forces of the glacial moraine landscape. It is an ideal place to take the dogs for a run into the untouched wilderness of interior Alaska. The landscape is dominated to the north by the highest peak in north america, mt. mckinley, or as the locals call it denali (= the high one in athabaskan). The 2,450 sf house is complimented by a large outdoor court-yard and an accessible roof terrace. The courtyard provides relief from the overwhelmingly expansive natural setting, creating a wind sheltered space with sounds of trickling water, warmth of a fire and a scrawny black spruce tree relocated from the meadow below. The owner mostly built the house by himself. The materiality of the house is simple and durable: Local Alaskan yellow cedar cladding, a very durable and aromatic wood, lines the interior of the main volume in the house. Charred wood siding for the exterior cladding was used for several reasons: a long lasting, traditional low maintenance finish and as reference to wildfires that happen in the area frequently. The dark volumes of the house act as a strong contrast to the natural environment.”
The greatest part of this modern dream home project is of course the landscape it was built in, which presented the architect with the challenge of adapting his insertion to the existing natural elements. He has done in my opinion a great job; the straight lines defining the composition fit in beautifully and the materials which were used in the making allow it to blend in the natural environment.
Photography: kevin g. smith photography
Architects: Mayer Sattler-Smith
Type: Residential – Single family residence
Location: United States
Client: Happy trails kennel, Martin Buser and Kathy Chapoton
Building status: built in 2009
Number of stories: 2
Site type: rural
Building area: 2500 sqft