Ravine Residence


Living in the Landscape

The rolling hills of Iowa are brought into sharp relief against an elevated and open floor plan.  

Located on an acreage in rural Iowa, the Ravine Residence draws its inspiration from the topography and vegetation of its forested site to create an experience of living within the landscape.  Its primary gesture, a transparent social space elevated in the tree canopy, bridges the ravine below, preserving this natural site feature and creating a strong datum that accentuates the topography.  This social space serves as the core of the house, connecting the entry sequence on the west to the bedrooms on the opposite bank.

As the house wraps through the undulating site, it presents a collection of carefully curated experiences.  Axial views intersect layers of nature and light, glass and wood.  Crisp edges frame views of the house beyond, set against a backdrop of tree and sky.  Fleeting reflections and expansive vistas blur the boundaries between interior and exterior.  Rigorous detailing and a restrained material palette create a taught canvas for the play of light and shadow throughout the course of days and seasons.  Through these experiences, a family engages in a mutable dialog between house and site. 

The house is constructed of cast-in-place concrete bearing walls on the lower level with wood framed construction clad in cedar siding above.  The concrete walls were arranged on a 2’ module so that economical and re-usable steel formwork could be used.  Wood trusses at both the floor and roof achieve large spans and allow for the efficient concealment of mechanical systems.  Energy saving strategies include geothermal heat pumps and fan-assisted natural ventilation.  A low-maintenance, low-slope roof is clad in standing seam metal.  Rainwater is allowed to sheet flow off of roofs, dispersing water across the site and eliminating gutter maintenance.