Houses embedded in the earth are becoming a fashion.
The reasons are compelling–the grass roofs reduce energy loads and their low profile doesn't impinge on the natural landscape.
In the case of a 2,850-square-foot guesthouse in the Colorado Rocky Mountains, the clients, for whom Gluck had designed a main house on the site in 2004, wanted a separate structure to be located on property to the south between a creek and an access road. But they didn't want it to interfere with the splendid mountain vista they had from the main house. “So many views are destroyed by plunking buildings on top of the land,”
The architects configured the guesthouse as two rectilinear steel-framed bars that intersect; the primary one contains open living and dining spaces, with a roof gradually rising to the south at a 20-degree angle. The volume seems to collide with and lift over a rectilinear structure running east–west on a diagonal, which contains three bedrooms and the garage. A wall of solar panels on the south elevation of the bedroom wing supplies heat for the house and swimming pool.
The living and dining areas, anchored by a bluestone fireplace wall on the north, open out through glazed doors to the pool on the east and a private, sunken, triangular courtyard on the west. Cor-Ten clads the courtyard's slanted retaining wall, into which an outdoor fireplace is carved.
Just beneath the Cor-Ten fascia of the house's roofs, clerestories frame panoramic views of the mountains. “It's become more than a guesthouse,” says Gluck. “It's a communal space for the family.”