NORTH GROS VENTRE BUTTE
Jackson Hole, Wyoming • 7,000 sq. ft.
Design Team: Kurt Dubbe, AIA; John Fabian
Sitting on a sloped site, this 7,000-square-foot home is the result of our clients’ vision coupled with the Kurt Dubbe’s design. Walking the site with them, Kurt understood it was their inspiration to marry their future home and guest house to it, working carefully with the existing conditions—the slanted topography and some rock outcroppings. They did not wish to build a large structure, which explains the quiet home lines and how the inconspicuous guest house, with its low roof, separate from the main house, is connected with the central motor court. They also did not want the garage to be a dominant feature but built into the hillside. Finally, they wanted to have a certain amount of mountain contemporary style in this home, yet keeping a traditional base and strong European influence in the layout of the individual spaces.
In contemporary architecture, the two models used are a line or a circle; our clients wanted to have a linear design, which is the fundamental principle for organizing initial design. Off of that line, three dimensions are added so that it no longer sits on a flat plane: stepping up, moving around, with areas that branch off on each side; yet the design remains very linear. There is no central core, therefore the whole layout is a progression, allowing a visual connection to the exterior throughout the house, taking advantage of the topography and the views on the Teton Range.
The outside walls were built using domestic limestone with a very heavy mortar set, stricken on its face, evoking the look of more modest homes in smaller traditional French southern towns. The framed walls are built with Western red cedar siding, wall shingles in the gables,and horizontal shiplap siding Western red cedar. All the timbers are structural grade Douglas fir with a stained complement and the roof is made of taper sawn cedar shingles for a more sophisticated look.
Interior spaces are made of veneer plaster walls. Floors are pickled white oak, and this is where there is a bridge between northern and southern European styles: the clients really wanted to have a white washed or pickled floor, worn and rubbed, akin to a lot of Swedish and Danish floors. Even though the wood is new, it has streaked with white washing. The end result is actually a fairly contemporary treatment.
The owners have spent extensive amount of time in the world, in Europe, and particularly in Paris. Kurt worked closely with Mrs. W. on color and layout, but, being an interior designer with a very sophisticated eye, she spearheaded all of the furnishings and fabrics and designed a simple, sublime, and highly elegant interior.
These latter qualities all speak to the material selection and the general aesthetics that Kurt has applied to the general modules, once they were laid out conceptually. The outdoor spaces and how they touch the building edges are of equal importance to all of the interior spaces. There is nothing ostentatious or overly robust: all materials are simple and well-thought out. Kurt studied at length with his clients to come up with good examples with a whole series of mock-ups; not only was this the psychological foundation of a home that sits up a hillside, it was also the unifying thread that he imparted in this design that goes well together. There is no competition, it is all about subtlety. Each individual element is not a stand-alone since they are all connected, with significant chimney masses to tie the whole together.
“Self-confidence” is the word that most clearly captures the essence of this home and describes its owners; they feel very comfortable in it and love their new space.