Tucked into the shifting landscape between rolling prairie and a riparian valley, this deconstructed house is barely visible from the road above. That suits the owners, who wanted a summer house that felt like a camp, closely tied to the site.

And connect it does. Lake|Flato Architects took the request literally, burying the back wall of the canted bedroom wing into the south-facing hillside—ideal for passive heating and cooling. From under their sod blanket, the bedrooms face out to lake and mountain views. The master bedroom has a small, sloped metal roof of its own, so it feels like a cottage. “The roof pitches up to the north, bringing in light and making it a more iconic space,” says principal David Lake.

Grand Award

Category Custom home, less than 3,500 square feet
Entrant/Architect Lake|Flato Architects, San Antonio
Builder Yellowstone Traditions, Bozeman, Mont.
Interior designer Madeline Stuart & Associates, Los Angeles

The headquarters also lives easily in that magical place between inside and out. Tied to the private bedroom wing with an outdoor loggia, the gabled public area is effectively a barn, a familiar structure in the landscape. Living, kitchen, and dining rooms are strung along a south-west–facing axis and bracketed by porches. The team worked hard to reconcile it to the tough climate. Constructed of hardscrabble concrete, steel, and wood, the entire building opens and closes with a series of sliding doors. In summer, glass doors disappear into wall pockets and are replaced with screen doors. In winter, insulated Cor-Ten steel doors seal the building up tight.

Like all good farm structures, this project’s materials—exposed trusses, steel fittings, doorknobs—reveal how buildings go together. “Everything you touch has a sense of purpose, honoring the joinery of the thing,” Lake says.