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Sanjay Gangal
Sanjay Gangal
Sanjay Gangal is the President of IBSystems, the parent company of, MCADCafe, EDACafe.Com, GISCafe.Com, and ShareCG.Com.

The Syncline House in Boulder, Colorado by Arch 11

February 15th, 2011 by Sanjay Gangal

Project update on May 26, 2011 – Arch11 has won four 2011 Watermark Awards in Builder Magazine’s annual competition. They won the competition’s overall Project of the Year for the Syncline house, built with construction partner Hammerwell, Inc., also of Boulder.  Additional awards for the Syncline project included Grand Prize, Kitchen in a Custom Home—3,000 to 5,000 square feet; an Award of Merit for Powder Room in a Custom Home; and an Award of Merit for Master Bath in a Custom Home. The 2011 Watermark Awards winners are showcased in Builder Magazine’s May issue and the story runs online with slideshows of the winning projects.

Original article from February 15, 2011

The new 4,800-square-foot half-glass home on a cul de sac just above Boulder¹s downtown would seem to be a mighty contradiction. The owners, a former professional rock climber and the U.S. distributor of Australian-designed outdoor gear, Shelley and Andrew Dunbar, wanted an energy efficient home on their lot abutting Open Space and Mountain Park-protected land. But did it really make environmental sense to raze the existing 1,600-square-foot A-frame and build a new structure three times as large?

With Arch 11 ­ a firm drawn to developing projects with “impossible” sites, budgets, and structural parameters ­ in charge, the answer is yes.

Front Exterior

Syncline House - Front Exterior

  • Architect: Arch11
  • Area: 4,800 sq ft
  • Location: Boulder, Colorado
  • Year completed: 2009

Despite its size ­ and the fact it literally is half-glass — the LEED Gold certified new house has a smaller carbon footprint than the demolished A-frame. Arch 11 achieved the savings with a 10-kilavolt solar system, ground loop heating and cooling, and a green roof, among other things.

Front exterior in the morning

Front exterior in the morning

The Dunbars also got the exact house they wanted, including the less-is-more Zen-vibe kitchen ­ complete with 11-by-5-foot steel reinforced glass panels that slide away to transform kitchen counter into outdoor backyard bar ­ which recently won two national awards.


Kitchen - This kitchen recently won two national awards, including Designers' Choice Award, at the biennial Sub-Zero and Wolf Kitchen Design Competition.

The couple’s Boulder lifestyle retains vestiges of Mr. Dunbar¹s native Australia where they first met. Two Aussie cattle dog mutts love the home¹s backdoor access to 100 miles of hiking and biking trails. Boulder has an active cricket league for Mr. Dunbar, who¹s played since childhood. Jarra wood, a fast-growing durable Australian Eucalyptus species, is used throughout much of the interior.

Powder Room

Powder Room

Situated at the fold between the Rocky Mountain foothills and the Great Plains, the Syncline House mediates horizons and peaks, city and alpine meadows. Conceived as a frame for viewing the landscape, Arch 11 meticulously modeled the residence within the site to insure that planes of glass capture ridgetop views while respecting the city¹s height restrictions. Built with innovative renewable energy systems and materials crafted to last centuries, the house is a model of cutting-edge sustainable design and attains a LEED gold certification. Roof gardens allow the land to literally envelope the house, and expansive, retracting glass walls provide full views of the Flatirons to the west while connecting interiors with outdoor rooms. Executed with uncompromising detail, surfaces meet with quiet precision creating a serene background for the landscape and mountains beyond.

Rear deck

Rear deck - "We didn't want a house that we just lived in," Ms. Dunbar said. "We needed to completely blur the line between inside and out."

Open bedroom

Master bedroom - With one wall that opens completely to an exterior deck, the second-floor master bedroom can feel like a suite in the sky

Interior view

View of the mountains

Rear exterior

Rear exterior

Fireplace vignette

Fireplace - When visiting Mr. Dunbar's family back in Australia, the couple spent hours driving around residential neighborhoods looking for design inspiration."We wanted it to have an Australian feel," Ms. Dunbar said.


Interior overview - For two years, the Dunbars lived in the A-frame house that was on the property when they bought it. They had planned only to remodel it, but were told a remodel would be more expensive and less green than if they started from scratch.

Rear view at dusk

Rear view at dusk - The house's backyard connects directly to 45,000 acres set aside by the city of Boulder as Open Space & Mountain Parks.

Shelly and the kids

The Dunbars' two Australian cattle dog mutts spend most of their time in the backyard, which connects to thousands of acres of open space, but do come inside to rest.

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Category: House

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