Thaynes Canyon Residence

House (Single Residence)


From Sparano + Mooney Architecture

The client expressed a desire for “a piece of art that we can live in…”, which provided the basis for the design for this contemporary farmhouse in a canyon in Utah. The site is adjacent to the Park City ski resort with ski-in access. A stream runs through the site, and the house was sited within a meadow offering mountain views as backdrop. The form of the house is a bar containing three zones of experience: the public, the private and areas of refuge. The public zones of entertainment extend out to the site with patio spaces in the front and back of the house. The living room fireplace extends outdoors with a board-formed concrete bench. The kitchen is a double height space connecting the upper floor bedrooms with the activity below and bringing light into the volume with clerestory windows. The program also includes private spaces for film screenings and a small library/studio for the clients, who are an artist and filmmaker.

Each of the residence’s zones possess a material expression, from the solid massing of the stone enclosure walls to the lighter surfaces with perforated metal or wood, to the light spans of glass. The project emerged from the need to replace a dilapidated structure on the site with a new home that respected the history of the site and its natural setting. The architecture took its cues from nature and the site, both in its simple form and contextual materials. The stone is from a local quarry, rough and textural; the CorTen steel has weathered to a rich patina; and the blackened wood references fire. These materials are rooted in the history of the site and balance roughness and refinement.

The design strategy of minimal disturbance on the site helped us to keep the footprint relatively small and disrupt less of the site and its vegetation. Large mature trees on the property were protected as the house was designed around them, and the small creek running through the site was preserved and augmented with a small pond for ducks and other birds and wildlife. The site is a habitat for deer, rabbits, coyote and birds, and the design team preserved and amplified the property to enhance its ability to coexist with wildlife. Energy modeling was employed early in the design process to study the solar path, which informed the size and location of openings and overhangs. High performance triple glazed window systems were specified and the building envelope was designed to maximize thermal efficiency. Building materials were selected for very low or no maintenance qualities, and no finishes were required for the stone and steel cladding. Automated controls for lighting and heating were provided and no cooling/air conditioning was included. Radiant heat is provided in the concrete floors to efficiently heat the home. Rainwater and snow melt is captured with internal roof drains and collected for irrigation of the native landscaping.

The materials selected were inspired by the natural context of the site. The stone was quarried from nearby Brown’s Canyon. Low-maintenance CorTen steel was selected for the cladding and weathered to a fall patina to reflect the character of the home when surrounded by amber and gold leaves in the autumn. Vertical wood planks clad the garage volume and has been blackened with a traditional shou sugi ban method to resist fire and insects. These exterior materials and the interior concrete floors and surfaces require minimal maintenance and no toxic finishes with zero VOC. Inside the home, a rough textured board-formed concrete wall is capped with smooth gypsum and wood panels. The home’s hearth was re-purposed from the former structure on the site and salvaged wood clads the garage interior and workbench.