On a Utah ski mountain, a new neighborhood is bucking the trend of gaudy, environmentally insensitive construction that has long dominated Mountain West resorts. For their first completed project in the United States, Canadian architecture firm MacKay-Lyons Sweetapple recently finished phase one of Horizon, the first pre-designed neighborhood on Powder Mountain, Utah. With eight cabins now complete, the village—which will consist of 30 cabins—has been designed to follow passive solar principles and to allow the majority of Powder Mountain to remain undeveloped as part of the project’s commitment to climate responsiveness and land stewardship.

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timber cabins atop of snowy mountain

The Horizon village was created to serve as the “home base” for Summit Series, a startup for a conferences comparable to TED. Six years ago, the startup purchased Powder Mountain, the largest ski mountain in the U.S., for the purpose of making the site “an epicenter of innovation, culture, and thought leadership.” To translate the startup’s values of community, environmental responsibility, and social good into architecture, Summit Series tapped MacKay-Lyons Sweetapple to design a village with reduced site impact and an appearance that evokes the traditional mountain vernacular.

timber ski cabin surrounded by snow
timber ski cabins surrounded by snow on a hill
timber ski cabins surrounded by snow on a hill

Located at 9,000 feet elevation, Horizon will consist of 30 cabins of four different typologies ranging in size from 1,000 to 3,000 square feet, a series of strategically placed garages, and a communal lodge called the “Pioneer Cabin.” Every building will be elevated on steel stilts and oriented for optimal passive solar conditions. Moreover, thermal mass concrete flooring with hydronic in-floor heating will help keep energy costs down. Inspired by the region’s cedar-clad barns, the cabins will be wrapped in vertical shiplap cedar and topped with cedar-shingled roofs.

Related: Affordable wooden cabin is precariously perched over a cliff in Nova Scotia

interior of wooden cabin with wood ceiling and large windows
interior of wooden cabin with wood ceiling and large windows

“The theme and variation strategy, in combination with the dramatic topography, results in a neighborhood that has a powerful sense of both unity and variety,” says the project press release. “The dense neighborhood will allow the majority of Powder Mountain’s 11,500 acres to remain undeveloped, and conserved for future generations.”

+ MacKay-Lyons Sweetapple Architects

Images by Doublespace Photography