Before social-distancing became in vogue, the owner of the Boar Shoat (a family term for youthful vivacity) was looking for some isolation. Not to get away from a pandemic, but to gain distance from the clamor of city living. He wanted a retreat – a place where he and his family could distance themselves from social stresses, withdraw digital connection, and commune with nature and each other. So he went back to the place of his carefree childhood summer vacations, and that’s where he found it – along a gentle natural berm, next to a quaking stand of aspen trees, nestled in a sixty acre parcel of rolling grassy hills, surrounded by the great Rocky Mountains of Southern Idaho – perfectly in the middle of nowhere.
Intended as a crash pad and base camp, three small structures gather under an open air pavilion, encapsulating the client’s main concept for the project – a spartan shelter within the Bear River range. Central to the project by Imbue Design is a large outdoor living space under an expansive canopy that protects it from the weather. The triad of small structures (consisting of residence, guest quarters and utilitarian storage) flank this outdoor living room on three sides acting as windbreaks and framing views of Paris Peak.
With no utility connections for miles, the self-sustaining retreat is designed with energy in mind. Using passive solar strategies, the windows are positioned to harness free energy from the sun during the winter, and roof overhangs have been calculated for cool summer shading. Superior insulation and sealing techniques achieve a tight building envelope, coupled with performance enhancing windows and doors to cross ventilate and manage interior comfort. Electricity and heat are provided by a photovoltaic array atop the canopy with supplemental battery storage and back-up generator.
Emphasizing the owner’s desire for low to no maintenance materials, the entire exterior is clad in accordion metal panels, well suited for the harsh winters of the open range. The panel’s unique shape creates ever changing patterns of light and shadow which gracefully transitions throughout the day and the seasons. Likewise, an oculus in the canopy traces sun angles throughout the year, from space to space, marking every moment spent there.
The interior is simple, complimenting the exterior experience by visually bringing views and vegetation inside through expansive floor to ceiling windows. Clean white walls act as a gallery for an extensive art collection created by the owner’s daughters. Furnishings were selected by the client’s talented wife, making the place uniquely theirs. Natural wood ceilings warm and soften the space from above. Below, intentionally untreated concrete floors offer a durable, worry-free surface that embraces the patina of life and over time recounts a living record of time well spent. Logan and Steven Schenk of locally based yNot Construction sourced labor and construction materials from nearby outfits and suppliers – orchestrating the entire build from the first spade in the ground through the ceremonious ‘house warming’ get-together.
Naturally, the landscape is left ruggedly wild to further induce awareness of being encompassed and abound by nature, yet away from everything.
Design, info and images © Imbue Design