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A home grown on the range.

When the sun goes down, it's time to head for home. This new house set in a natural bowl near Aspen, Colorado, makes that return journey especially welcome. With barnlike shapes, a long porch, and the glow of lamplight spreading out across the snow, it fits as comfortably in Colorado's long tradition of vernacular ranch architecture as it does in its meadow site.

That's just what owners Monique and Jules Bonjour had in mind when they started looking for a place to build a vacation retreat that could someday serve as their retirement house. "When we saw the acreage, we said, 'Isn't that beautiful!' and accidentally drove right off the road," recalls Monique Bonjour. "We wanted to build a house that would fit into the land and that would look as if it had been there awhile."

Aspen architects Cottle Graybeal Yaw took up the challenge. According to project architect Michael Doyle, the meadow site made them think of ranches in northwestern Colorado, where houses and barns have often grown into single structures after successive remodelings and expansions. They decided to design a house that looked as though it had evolved in a similar fashion, with three gabled sections connected to each other along a shed-roofed walkway.

To reinforce the house's regional feeling, the architects used natural or local materials wherever possible. Roofs are corrugated metal, commonly used on agricultural buildings. River rocks excavated from the surrounding area were split to form the chimney and a low perimeter wall. Traditional battens are used untraditionally, in a grid pattern, for visual interest.

Careful site analysis guided many of the architects' decisions. For example, they oriented the living-dining room toward a southwest view of Mount Sopris, the area's principal landmark. The driveway extends from the sunny south side of the house, where icing up is least likely. To take advantage of solar gain in winter, double-glazed windows face southeast and southwest.

Local materials were brought inside to build an immense river rock and sandstone fireplace that takes the chill off the valley's cold winters. Operable skylights and a ceiling fan are enough to cool the house in summer.
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Author:Gregory, Daniel P.
Date:Dec 1, 1992
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