In Woody Creek, the High White Note

Places / January 28, 2010

Two and a half minutes from Woody Creek Tavern, where an outrageous Dr. Hunter Stockton Thompson once held court and passed judgment upon all who dared trespass there, lies a well-sited new house with grand views of the Roaring Fork and the town of Aspen.

It’s much quieter now. The good doctor is gone. And this home, designed by Rowland + Broughton Architecture and Urban Design, stands as a symbol of a new and different sensibility.

“It’s not in your face,” said firm principal Sarah Broughton. “It’s intuitive. We believe that architecture is more like something that feels right – it’s about scale, space and light. It’s about everything working together.”

The firm’s challenge was to build a house that was affordable (it came in at a remarkable $250 per square foot), as energy efficient as possible – and as sustainable as could be. The client wanted a prefab home for an extraordinary site. So the big question for the architect was: “How do we dress up a box?”

The answer lay with Galvalume siding, boards of red cedar and floors made in a rudimentary adobe style. That’s right: they’re three-inch thick layers of mud – clay and sand, bound by straw – then packed down mightily. Once dried, they’re covered with a thin layer of wax.

The home’s R-value is high since it’s constructed with SIPs throughout, its walls insulated with recycled newsprint.

But the site tells the tale of this house. The architect preserved a number of cottonwood trees during construction, and now they frame views from courtyard and living room. The Roaring Fork is visible at every turn, especially from rooftop terrace. “The river and the views drove all our decisions,” Sarah said.

Hunter Thompson alluded frequently to Scott Fitzgerald’s (and by implication, his own) relentless pursuit of the “high white note.” Here in Woody Creek, Rowland + Broughton may have finally located the grail they both sought.

For more information on Rowland + Broughton, go to:

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Michael Welton

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on January 29, 2010

Very nice, tranquil in an almost oriental vein. Needs rifle ports and a high/low trap house addition in my opinion.

on August 26, 2017

I love the design it’s very peaceful and elegant looking combination.

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