Stacked-Wood Walls Tie This Eco-Friendly Camp to the Montana Landscape

Stacked-Wood Walls Tie This Eco-Friendly Camp to the Montana Landscape

By Michele Koh Morollo
In the wilds of Bigfork, Montana, a green family compound by Flathead Lake invites visitors to reconnect with nature.

Designed by Austin, Texas–based studio Andersson-Wise Architects, the 12,500-square-foot Stone Creek Camp is sited on a sloping hill whose topography guides visitors to discover the grounds slowly: from the gatehouse to the master house, main lodge, and guesthouse. The eco-friendly family retreat features a stacked wood facade that was built from fallen trees found on the site; a sod green roof that provides insulation; and stone, wood, windows, doors, and other construction materials sourced regionally.

The heart of the camp is the main residence, the Lake House, which has a stacked "cordwood wall" made from Douglas firs found on-site.   

Spectrally selective Quantum Windows, radiant floor heating, a cold roof system that prevents ice dams, and closed cell foam insulation to prevent heat loss are some of the key sustainable features incorporated into the camp’s energy-efficient buildings.  

Set on 15 acres of land near Bigfork, Montana’s Flathead Lake, the allows family members and guests to unplug in nature. Besides the master residence, called the Lake House, there is a restored cabin that has existed on the property since the 1940s, a guesthouse, kitchen and laundry facilities, a large dock, and a communal lodge. The latter includes a living and dining room, a storage and craft room, a gym, and a four-car garage or workshop.

Sections of the facade were built with naturally oxidizing, low-maintenance Cor-Ten steel. 

Each of the buildings provides cozy, cave-like spaces with generous, sun-lit porches that look out to stunning views.

The floors and decking are all made from long-lasting, rot-resistant ipe wood.

"Inhabitants may choose to be outdoors while inside by sliding open walls or moving outside to spaces that are more civilized than the outlying wilderness," says the studio cofounder Arthur Andersson. "Similarly, with each bedroom’s separate screened-in space, it is always possible to sleep in nature and yet still be secure within the building."

The interiors have a cabin-like feel.

The Lake House is equipped with its own living room, kitchen, and amenities.

Natural materials such as concrete, stone, and wood give the architecture a rugged honesty that allows it to harmonize with the pine trees and stone outcroppings outdoors.

A screened sleeping porch connects each of the bedrooms to the outdoors. 

Adds cofounder Chris Wise, "The materials and textures of these buildings connect them to the site. The effect is paradoxical: despite their size, the camp’s large structures seem to emerge from the rock, wood, and grasses that surround them. Like the lake, they feel as if they have been—and will be—here forever."

This rustic Montana retreat has a green roof that looks like part of the hillside.

Project Credits: 

Architecture: Andersson-Wise Architects 

Builder: Bigfork Builders & Martel Construction 

Structural engineering: Eclipse Engineering 

Interior design: Mimi London

Geotechnical engineering: CMG Engineering 

Kinetic architecture: Turner Exhibits 


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