Willis Pember Architects
Aspen, United States
Project Year
Private Houses


Willis Pember Architects as Architects

CONCEPT “..buildings are always built somewhere.” David Leatherbarrow, Topographical Stories (2004)

“The house is not an object....” Steven Holl, HOUSE Black Swan Theory (2007)

Between these two seemingly contradictory statements lies the conceptual basis for this project. The articulation of architectural settings within a specific landscape requires the mutual codependence and reliance of each discipline for their reciprocal definition. Understood this way, architecture is not an autonomous object, but tied to specific elaborations of the landscape working in concert with natural effects that are constructed, found and made available by the site. Nature is put to work. With Meadowood House, landscape and architecture are elaborated together, with multiple and various natural and constructed encounters between a mountainous sloping site and the typical public and private settings found in a single-family house. Generally speaking, the public areas of the house, living room, dining room and den, derive from outdoor settings that appear to move from the exterior and are captured by the interior. Photography of the residence ’in toto’ is impossible, rendering only partial views as the house is cut into the hillside to the South and appears to hover into the distant views of the horizon toward the North. This partial and ’picturesque’ relationship of the architecture to the landscape is realized most clearly from interior photographs. Each setting is completed via an almost surreal saturation of the exterior landscape from the major, public rooms of the house.

FORMAL RESOLUTION Program elements pinwheel across, on and into the site. The sunken courtyard is the most figural element, de-emphasizing the architecture as object|figure. The circulation pattern created invites a certain meandering across diagonals from inside to out and back again. Elevations are created via a material dialogue of rough|smooth arrayed as a topography.

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