After searching for many months, Danish interior designer Mette Axboe and her family discovered the perfect location for their new home—10 acres of land set on a gently sloping mountainside with expansive views encompassing Park City’s ski resorts.
When they engaged Park City–based architect Chris Price and his firm Park City Design + Build (PCD+B), they already had a layout of their dream home on paper. "We wanted something that would fit our lifestyle and family, and cater to frequent (and long-staying) guests from overseas," says Axboe. "We asked Chris to ‘architect it up’—keeping our layout in mind, and ensuring a good fit with both the site and surrounding area. It was very important for us to design a house that fit the landscape, and not the other way around." The design was inspired in part by Salt Lake City's National History Museum of Utah, which the family deems the most beautiful building in the city.
The building process started with an intense dialogue with the design review board, which took about a year to conclude. "This process is pretty common in neighborhoods in Park City since the town has a very strong mountain vernacular, and modern forms can draw easy critique," says Price.
The Axboe House is a "study in transparent, indoor/outdoor mountain living." In line with PCD+B's design ethos, the home's energy performance was also of utmost importance, and borrows its efficiency tactics from the European energy standard of Passiv Haus. "Using triple-pane Zola windows allow us to open the house to maximize the views without massive heat loss," explains Price. Southern-facing windows let in light and heat in winter, while providing shade in summer.
The simple material palette consists of horizontal, natural cedar anchored by board-formed concrete. Says Price, "The board-formed concrete was an absolute must for us. However, had we known it would take that long to make, we would probably have done a little less." In the end, the board-formed concrete delayed the completion of the house by about three months, but the results are well worth it.
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The lighting was another very important feature, helping to set the mood and separate the spaces. "Lighting shouldn’t be an afterthought—it must be designed in from the get-go," says Axboe. "The choice of light fixtures is such an important part of interior design that ties it all together and gives the illusion of bringing the ceiling down in areas where you want a hygge feeling."
In the end, both the architect and the interior designer/client were more than satisfied with the results. Axboe concludes, "People always tell you that building a house both takes longer and costs more money than you have planned for—and they are completely right. I like to compare it to giving birth to a child: You quickly forget the pain and frustration of labor, and then you are ready for number two."
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