When Ed and Leigh approached Colorado-based architecture firm F9 Productions to design their custom Rocky Mountain home, the couple wanted a residence that could last well into the future. This meant that the forever home not only had to be engineered with ADA-compliant features, but it also needed to be robust enough to weather the region’s extreme winter conditions for years to come. As a result, the architects crafted the Eastwatch House, a highly durable home that also takes advantage of passive solar conditions to reduce energy demands.
Located at an elevation of 8,200 feet in the Rocky Mountain high country, the Eastwatch House is exposed to extremely cold winters, during which highs hover around freezing and 100-mile-per-hour winds and large snowstorms are the norm. Moreover, the site is also at risk of wildfires. To protect the home against these ever-present dangers, the architects constructed it with a steel post-and-beam system with an exterior palette of steel, masonry and glass. The building is topped with a Class A fire-rated TPO roofing and ipe decking. Long roof overhangs protect the home from snow.
Although floor-to-ceiling windows were installed to frame beautiful mountain views, the home manages to stay comfortably warm thanks to hydronic in-floor heating and passive heating strategies. The exposed concrete slab floor and internal brick wall provides a total of 90 metric tons of thermal mass to capture heat during the day. This heat is then slowly dissipated at night. A southeasterly window wall is also key to capturing passive solar heat gain, which accounts for 75% of the home’s heating needs.
Because the clients intend to use the house for many decades, the Eastwatch House was designed with no stairs and features ADA-compliant doors and hallways. The walls were also designed for easy installation of handrails in the future. “Ed and his Leigh have always believed that form must follow function,” the architects said. “In a well thought out system, there must be a reason for everything. Things without reason should be removed. This belief set the tone for the home.”
Images via F9 Productions