Near Whitefish, Montana, Cushing Terrell Architects Engineers designed the Confluence House, a contemporary eco-conscious getaway that feels like a natural extension of the landscape. Named after its location at the intersection of two rivers, the Confluence House serves as a getaway for a nature-loving family. In addition to reducing its visual impact on the landscape, the architects also sought to lessen the building’s environmental impact with an energy-efficient design that includes solar panels and native drought-tolerant vegetation.

Located on 10 acres framed by the dramatic Montana mountains, the Confluence House comprises three structures— a main house, a guest house and a utility structure— arranged around a protected central courtyard. To blend the low-lying buildings into the landscape, the architects wrapped the exteriors in locally sourced dark-stained wood and stone cladding punctuated with floor-to-ceiling insulated windows that seamlessly bring the outdoors in. Rugged metal roofs with an expansive solar PV system top the structures.

Shaped by the neighboring bluffs, the Confluence House aligns the 2,282-square-foot main house with the west bluff while the 946-square-foot east bluff is aligned with the east bluff. The two-suite guest house is separated from the main house for privacy and is connected by way of a covered porch. “A model of efficient space planning, there are no hallways,” reads the project statement. “The flat-roofed living structures allow the complex to disappear into the horizon line.” The indoor/outdoor connection is emphasized through the abundance of glazing and a natural material palette, from the exposed-aggregate concrete floors that evoke gravel river beds to the whitewashed Douglas fir ceilings that reference weathered wood.

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The surrounding landscape also influenced the landscaping of the protected courtyard, which is planted with native, drought-tolerant vegetation. Carefully placed boulders strengthen the landscaping’s similarities with the environment. A stream bed cuts through the courtyard and is a natural conduit for the rainwater that pours down from scuppers on the roof.

+ Cushing Terrell Architects Engineers

Photographer: Karl Neumann