Butcherknife Residence | WorkshopL
This vibrant dwelling in Steamboat Springs, Colorado, is the home of an artist. She wanted an energy-efficient house with great views and plenty of daylight. To make the most of her site, architect Erik Lobeck of WorkshopL designed a three-level house with an open living space on the middle floor. The additional height allowed for views over neighboring homes into Steamboat Springs’ Butcherknife Canyon and beyond to the mountains surrounding the community.
The house has roughly 1200 ft2 (111.5 m2) of floor space with the owner’s art studio on the ground level and two bedrooms on the top floor. While a bit of floor space was lost to stairs, the views more than made up for it. Spreading the space over three floors also resulted in a smaller footprint, leaving room on the property for a future detached garage and accessory dwelling unit.
As an artist, the owner valued natural light. The small floor plates provided an advantage there, allowing for even daylighting throughout. The main bedroom and the ground-level studio both have windows on three sides, while the living space has windows on all four sides. The second bedroom has windows on two outside walls but also borrows light from the stairwell through an interior window.
WorkshopL specializes in energy-efficient design, and for this house the architect specified insulated 2×6 walls with an additional 3″ (7.5 cm) of EPS foam layered on the outside, providing a thermal break at the studs. It’s a fairly economical way to achieve a level of insulation appropriate for Steamboat Springs’ bitterly cold winters. An in-floor radiant heating system with an efficient boiler maintains comfortable temperatures without drafts.
Even when a room is warm, you can feel cold near the windows due to your body heat radiating directly out through the glass. That effect becomes more pronounced in a small house where the reduced floor space means that seating areas are usually closer to the windows. To alleviate that, all the windows in this house are ultra high-efficiency triple-paned units brought in from Europe. Unfortunately this type of window is not yet readily available from American manufacturers, so anyone in the U.S. who wants to achieve the highest level of energy efficiency typically has to import them either from Canada or from Europe.
The house is clad in fiber-cement panels with a small amount of cedar accent, making for a low-maintenance exterior. Maintenance should be considered with any house design but it is a particularly important consideration for a three-story house where any cleaning and repainting requires a lot of working from ladders or scaffolding.
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Images courtesy of WorkshopL.
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