magma colored glass warms this mountain retreat in california by faulkner architects

Nov 24, 2021

direct ski access and panoramic views are just two of the features of this residence in truckee, california, designed by faulkner architects. the contemporary dwelling is located 1920 meters above sea level at the base of lookout mountain, a three million-year-old, and now inactive, volcano.

lookout house is embedded into the sloping landscape, creating three levels with both sunken and elevated volumes. the cleared ski access adjoining the site informed the massing of the building: a ski access ramp is created to the east and a narrow circulation space runs through the plan to mirror the shape of a ski run.

the narrow circulation that slices through the house not only references the nearby ski slope but also the ‘intense geologic history’ of the site. the architects clad the north face of this slender space with red-orange glass that suggests the color of cooling magma. it also creates a warming core that extends from the entrance on the lower level to the master bedroom on the top floor.

aside from the warm glow of the tinted glass, the exterior of lookout house is characterized by black steel and monolithic concrete, both of which were chosen for fire resistance and low maintenance. the concrete and steel continue inside with the added touch of wooden ceilings and basalt floors tiles. the 50-cm thick concrete walls are insulated and made from local sand and aggregate. they extend into the landscape to create sheltered outdoor spaces. structural glass doors open the interiors out to the surroundings.

in addition to its colorful details, lookout house also addresses issues of sustainability with a focus on energy retention through the choice of materials and systems. faulkner architects specified mass-heavy concrete walls and radiantly heated stone floors, an R80 insulated roof, enhanced glazing, and high-efficiency mechanical and lighting equipment to minimize energy loss and use.

with regard to the program, functions are split by the slender circulation. on the middle floor, the western side contains the bedroom accommodation while the eastern side hosts the social spaces, including an open plan kitchen, a sun nook, and two terraces. on the lowest level, this division takes place between services such as the garage and laundry room, and a family room. the smaller top floor is reserved for a palatial master suite complete with a private terrace and lounge.

project info:

name: lookout house

type: residential

location: truckee, california, the US

architecture: faulkner architects | @faulknerarchitects

team: greg faulkner, christian carpenter, jenna shropshire, darrell linscott, gordon magnin, breanne penrod civil engineer: shaw engineering contractor: rickenbach development and construction

structural engineer: CFBR structural group interior designer: CLL – concept lighting lab lighting designer: CLL – concept lighting lab photography: joe fletcher, claudia kappl-joy