Launch Slideshow

Living in Nature

Living in Nature

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    Matthew Millman

    8-foot-tall windows on either side create a transparent living room at architect John Carney’s Fish Creek Guest house in Wilson, Wyo.

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    Matthew Millman

    The site’s many trees cast shadows that help to naturally cool the building, which has no air conditioning.

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    Matthew Millman

    A separate garage, covered in the same fireproof bonderized steel panels that clad the upper portion of the guest house.

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    Matthew Millman

    Corner windows bring views of the tranquil site into the bedrooms, making those space feel larger than they actually are.

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    Matthew Millman

    Carney and his wife Elaine, who are living in the guest house until their main house is built, chose rift-sawn, whitewashed vertical grain oak for the interior woodwork.

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    Matthew Millman

    Built-in cabinetry, doors, and windows all meet an 8-foot-high datum throughout the house, providing a sense of consistency and order.

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    Matthew Millman

    The buildings’ shed roofs suit the area’s snowy winters. Boulders found on the site form an organic landscape element.

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    Matthew Millman

    The guest house uses cross-ventilation, solar orientation, and overhangs as additional passive cooling strategies.

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    Matthew Millman

    Guests often comment on the vertical subway tile in the kitchen, Carney says. The 12-foot-long space echoes the serene palette of the rest of the project.

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    Matthew Millman

    John and Elaine Carney gained the idea for the whitewashed oak floor planks from a restaurant in Paris.

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    Matthew Millman

    An existing creek just outside the home provides a constant, relaxing sound effect for the Carneys and their guests.

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    Matthew Millman

    John Carney is currently designing a main house for the property. “An architect’s house is a place for experimenting,” he says. “At the same time, I want it to be integrated with the guest house.”

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    Matthew Millman

    Solar panels wouldn’t have made sense for this site, which receives substantial shade. Carney and builder Kurt Wimberg focused instead on building a tight, superinsulated envelope with a high-efficiency heating system.

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    Matthew Millman

    The colors of the cedar shingles and bonderized steel play off the landscape’s natural hues.

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    Matthew Millman

    Much of the home’s appeal lies in its straightforward form. “It’s as simple a rectangle as you can draw,” Carney says.

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    Matthew Millman

    The pastoral project lends itself to wildlife watching and stargazing.

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    Matthew Millman

    The discipline of living in a 950-square-foot space has proved valuable for Carney from a design point of view. “I will never think of scale the same,” he says.

  • Section B

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    Courtesy Carney Logan Burke Architects

  • 01.1.4 East Elevation _ Layout

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    Courtesy Carney Logan Burke Architects

  • 01.1.1 Main Level Plan _ Layout

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    Courtesy Carney Logan Burke Architects

  • 01.1.2 Site Plan _ Layout

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    Courtesy Carney Logan Burke Architects

 

When architect John Carney, FAIA, and his wife, Elaine, wake up in the morning, they may be greeted by a view of a moose, deer, or fox just outside their glass-wrapped bedroom. Carney designed their 950-square-foot home as a guest house on their wooded Wilson, Wyo., property, and the couple is living there while he works on schematic design for an eventual main residence.

Carney kept the guest house’s two bedrooms small to allow more space for the public areas, a strategy that also helps the private rooms establish a close connection to the forest outside. “The bedrooms are 10 feet from the bed wall to the window,” he says. “You really feel like you’re sleeping in the woods.”

Used to working with more square footage as a principal at Carney Logan Burke Architects, Carney enjoyed the discipline of designing within a smaller footprint. “We kept it very simple and pared down,” he explains. The floor plan is a straightforward rectangle with two bedrooms and baths flanking a main kitchen, living, and dining room. (A separate garage provides extra storage.) All of the windows and doors line up at a height of 8 feet, and a shed roof plus plenty of glass give the interiors a generous, soaring sense of space.

The couple chose just a few elemental materials—cedar shingles and bonderized steel on the exterior and rift-sawn, whitewashed vertical-grain oak on the interiors—so as not to compete with the site’s natural beauty. “It’s a very quiet, restful palette,” Carney says. Off-white, vertical subway tiles lend another texture to the 12-foot-long kitchen. A woodburning stove supplements the home’s high-efficiency heating system, and passive solar principles combined with cross-ventilation and superinsulation keep it naturally cool during the summertime.

Boulders found on the rocky site serve to enhance the project’s naturalistic landscaping. And Carney integrated an existing manmade stream into the site plan, placing the house close enough so he and Elaine can hear its soothing babble. “To me, the sound of a stream and the negative ions make you feel really good,” Carney says. “It’s a key to the success of the house.” This pleasing sensory effect is one more step toward the home’s overall goal of truly experiencing the site. “That was the design intent, and it really works,” he adds.

After a year of living in the house, though, there’s one animal sighting Carney is still waiting for. “We haven’t seen a bear yet,” he says. “But we’re expecting to. It’s bear country.”