Fire Lookout House

This is a study of a house in its true context, instead of its idealized context: real nature instead of romantic nature.

The house is a long bar floating over a steep mountain foothill. A solid, concrete end of the bar containing private and service spaces is buried in the hillside. At the other end, a cantilevered glass living space dissolves above a hazy valley below. We brought light into the buried portion of the house with scoops into the roof and hillside.  A detached cube further up the hillside has a garage and a space for visiting kids or guests.

To tackle the contextual challenge of the natural and man-made threat of wildfire, we surrounded our structures with a protective, second skin. Dark gray ceramic tile, which is naturally fire resistant, is layered over perlite insulation and cement board. This assembly acts as a sort of fireman’s coat around the primary structure. It also presents an opportunity for a liminal space between the second and primary skins which can serve as a covered deck that could open the house to the outdoors on temperate days, and shade the living spaces from direct sun. A series of sliding cement board panels can be closed in the event of evacuation during a wildfire, leaving the contents of the house protected.

Our renders show the house in its true context, confronting the realities of the site and region. In one render, a wildfire is visible in the distance. In others, smog and smoke surround the house and obscure the commanding view. We introduced a palette of blue-green, black and white to stand out from the contextual pinks and tans.


Paul Michael Davis, Tiffany Chow




2017 Grey Magazine, Wild Card Winner

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