Smith-Miller + Hawkinson

Broken Bar Ranch, Coggin House, Colorado, 2001

Built in 2002 on a plateau in the Colorado Rocky Mountains, the “broken bar” configuration of this house reinterprets and updates the American dream. Standing on the wooded edge of a prairie, the house takes advantage of an almost 270°-panoramic view over several thousand hectares of mountainous and forested landscapes. The project’s formal origin is drawn from the traditional Amerindian “longhouse,” a communal hall comprised of a single vast room dedicated to general assemblies and whose orientation is governed by topography and ritual. The “broken bar” extends from east to west, linking mountain to valley. It is closed off at the north end, in the same way as the edge of a forest, and open at the southern end, overlooking the prairie. The winding approach from the road at first follows the topography of the place; a wood of ponderosa pines obscures the landscape and makes the mountain chain seem more distant before leading the visitor towards the opaque northern wall of the house. The sequence for entering the building recalls the approach phase from the road: first oblique, then frontal and finally oblique again. The visitor passes through the northern wall at the point where the house breaks; still outside, he discovers the “hidden” wing, where the more private family areas are located. The building’s skin envelops and folds the interior.

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