Mountains present all sorts of building challenges -- rocky and uneven surfaces, steep lots, and limited drive-in access. The following custom home designs creatively rise to the occasion with minimal disruption to the environment. Even if building at a lower elevation is easier, these mountain homes offer views that can’t be beat.
The Cliff House by Specht Architects sits on a narrow limestone ridge overlooking Lake Austin, halfway down a cliff. Built on the frame of a 1970’s era structure, the original entrance was a dangerous 25-foot descent from the street to the front door. Specht modified the site for elderly homeowners, creating a rooftop terrace entrance for the three-level home, supplemented by elevators.
The Hawk’s Nest was built on the site of an abandoned limestone quarry, offering sweeping views of the Potomac river. Designed for a Parisian sculptor, the home’s cast concrete volumes are inspired by the sculptural medium, supporting the steel and glass structure that is “perched’ above. Wiedemann Architects developed a foundation with a local geologist’s help, for minimal disruption to the site.
BCV Architects’ Crow’s Nest is on one of the highest home sites in the Sierra, accessible by dirt road in the summer and snowmobile in the winter. Inspired by traditional Tyrolean mountainside buildings, the home was designed as a gathering place for a large family, offering ski-on, ski-off access to the Sugar Bowl Ski Resort in Norden, Calif. The Crow’s Nest’s splayed roof can take heavy snow loads while minimizing falling snow at the entrances.
Wrights Road by Charles Cunniffe Architects is a steep mountainside loft in Aspen, Colo., offering 360 degree views and generous natural lighting. Tucked in the trees, the home is sheltered and secluded, but floor to ceiling windows and lift & slide doors open the house to the exterior.
Perched on a mountain bluff overlooking the White River and Arkansas’ Ozark foothills, the Mountain Home is a lodge retreat that achieved LEED gold certification. Woven between 300 feet of forest and the mountain edge, designers made minimal disruption to the site. The home includes naturally sourced materials, high-performance widows, high-efficiency insulation, and Energy Star appliances.