Project NameLookout House
|Project Name||Lookout House||Location||
Truckee, CA 96161United States
Located outside Truckee, a logging town turned peaceful mountain retreat just north of Lake Tahoe in California, Lookout House enjoys, as its name suggests, panoramic views of the surrounding natural landscape thanks to the steeply sloped terrain, with the greatest perk being that you can ski right into it. California-based practice Faulkner Architects were informed by the site’s morphology and geologic history, to design a contemporary family house in dialogue with the rugged natural beauty of its surroundings. Combining California modernism with the alpine vernacular, the house is a four-season retreat that pays homage to its glorious mountainside location both through its thoughtful design and focus on sustainability.
Discretely perched on the steep hillside among volcanic basalt boulders and tall Jeffrey Pine and White Fir trees whose trunks have been stripped bare from years of deep snow fall, the 650 square-metre family house unfolds as a cubist composition of low-slung volumes that evokes "the feeling of a smaller ski cabin”, as architect Greg Faulkner says. Comprising three independent zones - common areas, the family’s private quarters and a guest area - the house is organized across a central axis that mirrors the ski run on the east side of the property also allowing the family to ski directly into the living room via a narrow slot cutting through the building.
In response to the harsh winter conditions, the building features durable, mass-heavy concrete walls made from local sand and aggregate and a low maintenance steel plate roof. While the former provide insulation and protect from heavy snow loads and falling branches, the latter’s fire resistance is a must in wildfire-prone California. Completed with basalt and walnut, the exterior’s minimalist material palette allows the building to blend in with the surrounding natural landscape despite its modernist sensibility, while a series of concrete terraces and steel balconies accessed through full-height glazed doors blur the boundaries between indoor and outdoor.
At the heart of the house, the 6-metre-high living and dining area features a large, built-in fireplace and a sandblasted stainless steel kitchen island, around which the family can socialise during cold winter days. When the weather is warmer, the motorised sliding doors retract to draw the family out onto an expansive courtyard with a hidden plunge pool and a separate terrace with an outdoor lounge.
Following the exterior’s cue, the interiors are swathed in reclaimed walnut panelling, exposed concrete walls and flamed basalt floors, the latter reflecting the area’s volcanic geology, as does the column of red-orange glass at the core of the house which references the colour of cooling magma. Underpinned by a muted colour palette of earthy tones, mustard yellows and light blues, the minimalist interiors are discretely lit by Claudia Kappl Joy from Concept Lighting Lab and sparsely furnished with plush, contemporary and modernist pieces. The intentionally muted interior design allows the natural setting to take centre stage courtesy of wide, floor-to-ceiling windows and glazed doors.
With some of Tahoe’s best ski resorts in close proximity – the closest ski lift is a just few hundred metres away – and with a plethora of summer activities like rafting, swimming, rock climbing and mountain biking to choose in summer, the house is a veritable all-year round retreat.