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Ur.2 House in Aspen, Colorado by Willis Pember Architects, Inc
November 20th, 2013 by Sanjay Gangal
Article source: Willis Pember Architects, Inc
PROGRAM: Ur.2 House, or urban|rural|duplex is a duplex development for an ‘empty nest’ couple. The couple occupies the owner‘s unit while the second unit was sold to support the project’s financing. The client hosted an invited design competition as part of the selection process to choose the Architect. Project goals included reexamining the typical developer duplex typology that mirrors units regardless of situation.
SITE: The site is located between an arterial suburban street to the East, and a steeply rising butte to the West, within BLM property. Panoramic views of Aspen Mountain to the South and sharply vertical views of the Butte to the North present themselves. The presentation of these views dramatically increases as site elevation is increased. There is an inherent tension between the suburban and natural features of the site given the compression of the building envelope between these differing landscapes.
CONCEPT: The project seeks to embrace outdoor living and its ‘topographical reach’ beyond the limits of the enclosure.
Secondly, the top and bottom of the ground floor exterior walls are erased, allowing horizontal extensions of the reflecting pool into the floor and ceiling planes of those spaces.
Thirdly, a triangulated geometry received from adjacent land forms, as well as the site itself, informed structural play of the inflected and cantilevered box trusses, creating simple, tumbled rock-like volumes. Much is made of the relationship of water, light and architecture to animate interior settings and increase awareness of the phenomenological aspects of the site. Sound, motion and reflection of water assist in defining two distinct residences, as well as mitigating ambient traffic noise. Architecture and landscape are elaborated together and mutually articulated.
FORMAL RESOLUTION: The house is created out of two organizational geometries, horizontally layered. The first floor geometry responds to the street edge and the necessary programmatic requirements of the ground floor|ground plane. A central water court creates a compressed entry experience and interior circulation for each of the units, while the second floor geometry seeks to connect the living levels with the panoramic views beyond the street. The central water feature, the most figural plan element, de-emphasizes the architecture as object|figure.
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