The Wee Ski Chalet: To go sustainable, a mountainside cabin starts small.

Posted on September 21, 2010

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Best Green Houses
Barrett Studio Architects
By David Sokol,Via:greensource.construction.com 

In the foothills just west of Boulder, Colorado, it’s rare to find a ski resort that isn’t developed to the nines—lodging, second homes, and the other accessories of luxury recreation. But there is at least one slope that still boasts only a ski lift and a lodge. And there, Boulder-based Barrett Studio Architects has helped one family make responsible, modern use of the old-fashionedly remote area…

Photo courtesy Barrett Studio Architects

…The family’s two-bedroom ski cabin, which David Barrett, AIA, calls the Wee Ski Chalet, encompasses a mere 1,103 square feet. “There’s no power, no water, no road to speak of,” Barrett says, who also notes that the family’s budget was limited. In order to accommodate these parameters, he says, “The first thing you do is supply what you need with the least amount of energy required. So we started with the idea of building a smaller house.” …

Photo courtesy Barrett Studio Architects

…The husband-and-wife client, enamored of the redeployed shipping containers they had seen in publications, wanted to follow a similar tack. But insulation proved tricky: “You want to keep shipping containers’ exteriors intact, because they’re waterproof and bombproof. But by the time you insulate the interior, you have no space left,” Barrett says. The team decided upon SIPs construction instead…

Photo courtesy Barrett Studio Architects

…And it still made use of shipping containers: Behind the house a photovoltaic array is mounted on one of these volumes, which also contains storage, a workshop, and the PV battery…

Photo courtesy Barrett Studio Architects

…Situated at approximately 10,000 feet above sea level, the main house includes large double-glazed windows facing south to let in the sunshine that is mostly available between 10am and 3pm—for which crews also had to clear some interfering conifers. Heat gain is stored passively in a poured concrete floor that features an oxblood pigment, and it is boosted by a radiant heat system fueled by propane boiler…

Photo courtesy Barrett Studio Architects

…The building’s HardiPanel skin clips to the SIPs via a system of reglets that better expresses the panel junctions as well as the underlying structure, although the dark gray of the facade largely gets lost among the trees…

Photo courtesy Barrett Studio Architects

…Currently, Wee Ski Chalet’s efficient kitchen and bathroom appliances make use of well water (heated by the propane boiler) and a septic field…

Photo courtesy Barrett Studio Architects

…Laws forbid rainwater collection, but the standing-seam metal roofs are canted to allow installation of a solar thermal system. Plumbing was also readied for this future application…

Photo courtesy Barrett Studio Architects

…Inside, wheatboard replaces drywall. The material is better known as the stuff of cabinetry. Barrett uses it on surfaces to remediate Colorado glare. “The wheatboard gives the sunlight an ochre cast and mellows it, so it wouldn’t overwhelm the eye.” The interior ceiling, made of slightly reflective corrugated galvanized steel, amplifies diffuse daylight…

Photo courtesy Barrett Studio Architects

…In plan and section, the interior of Wee Ski Chalet is simple: An Ikea kitchen with upper shelving…

Photo courtesy Barrett Studio Architects

…distinguishes an open living area…

Photo courtesy Barrett Studio Architects

…And two loft bedrooms…

Photo courtesy Barrett Studio Architects

..capitalize on convection…

Photo courtesy Barrett Studio Architects

…Window seats do double duty as storage, and outdoor gear is relegated to a peg-lined mudroom that calls to mind historic Shaker interiors…

Photo courtesy Barrett Studio Architects

…Indeed, the family has embraced these appointments with its own green zeal: On winter weekends, both the parents and their two children will cross-country to get from the ski resort’s parking lot to their second home’s front door…

Photo courtesy Barrett Studio Architects

..To that effect, Barrett says, “I think sustainability is something that Americans have a hard time coming to grips with…

Photo courtesy Barrett Studio Architects

…They like the idea of becoming sustainable with more technology, but not with doing more with less. Can you bring elegance and luxury to smallness?” Wee Ski Chalet suggests so, and Barrett hopes that it will set an example for the fancier residence-laden ski resorts still under development.

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