Aspen-based CCY Architects describes their approach as an ecology of place. Their architecture is integrally linked to site-specific factors of the American West. They have been working to build meaningful connections between the land and the clients, integrating aesthetics to the specific region and the individual client’s vision. This combination shows the importance of appreciating the authenticity of the places, while still pursuing contemporary expression of design.
“Our process begins with interviewing each site to uncover attributes which inform a more meaningful architecture and an optimal dialogue between the two, an exercise equal parts digging deep and attentive listening, with the process actively informing the finished work. This ethos reflects both our intention to create highly sophisticated designs, and who we are as a team: approachable, down-to-earth, and appreciative of our environment and community.”
In their design approach, CCY focuses initially on topography, access, and sun angles, followed by primary views prevailing winds, and potential challenges. Further considerations identify how to integrate the inherent tangible qualities embedded in the site, like tones and textures of the trees, rocks, and seasonal vegetation.
1. Victorian Music Box, Aspen, Colorado, US, 2018
The Victorian Music Box house beautifully compliments Aspen’s West End neighborhood’s feel of new creative houses mixed with restored historical buildings, while also reflecting the clients’ artistic interests. CCY Architects solved the challenge of capturing daylight in the Music Box by creatively perforating its siding. The design was created in a pattern derived from Chopin’s Nocturne in E-Flat Major, Op. 9, No. 2, superimposed on the building elevations like sheet music. Each piece of the aluminum siding’s laser-cut patterns is unique, representing different parts of the musical score - a favourite composition of the clients.
2. Meadow, Aspen, Colorado, US, 2018
This considerable program includes 5 guest bedrooms, a home theater, and a bowling alley while appearing as small as possible in accordance with the client’s request. The house is situated in a meadow with a river below, that can only be heard and not seen. While interviewing the site, CCY Architects figured out that a considerable amount of the program could be inserted under the meadow, while capturing the sounds of the water below. This partial embedding into the land complements the original meadow and minimizes the house’s visual expression.
3. Gammel Damm, Pitkin County, Colorado, US, 2016
Gammel Damm is a contemporary family retreat near Old Snowmass in Colorado. The house is purposefully located at the interior of the site amongst the existing large spruce trees and scattered aspen groves, which provide seclusion. Separate building elements are physically pulled apart and adapted to the sloping topography, thus minimizing site disturbance. A singular sloped roof is used to unify the separate components and further the program’s connection to the land.
4. Red Butte, Aspen, Colorado, US, 2016
CCY Architects transformed an old residence into a casual, but elegant home with an expanded living area. The architectural forms have a quiet and reduced expression in order to highlight the surrounding nature and the connection to Red Butte - a rusty-red summit rising behind the house. The main materials, like reclaimed elm and oak, also connect the house to the neighbouring aspen and evergreen grove. The wood trellises, which repeat both in the exterior and interior, are inspired by the dappled light coming through the trees outside.
5. T.A.G., Pitkin County, Colorado, US, 2016
This two-generation family home combines traditional and contemporary elements in its design, thus embracing both generations' lifestyles and preferences. CCY Architects used a progressive approach to bridge the gap between the different attitudes of the main house and the guesthouse. The identifying form of the family compound is the classic gable roofs, which are rendered in crisp detail. Timeless materials, such as stone, are used in abstract and elemental ways. CCY Architects have thought of the aging of the compound according to the Rocky Mountain climate - the bright copper will patina to a rich dark brown and the stone will appear more prominent with time.
6. Maroon Creek Overlook, Aspen, Colorado, US, 2015
This contemporary building is located at the edge of a steep hillside overlooking an active creek. The house is designed as three pods connected by transparent links, each one containing a distinct area - primary suite, living area, and children’s rooms. These pods pull, push and rotate, creating clusters of privacy and connecting with the site and environment. The outdoor areas are enclosed by architectural concrete walls, adding privacy from the adjoining bike path, while also capturing maximum sunlight in the day.
7. Gambel Oaks, Eagle County, Colorado, US, 2014
The client’s requirements for this house were precise: it should not be visible from the nearby roads, the design should express both her progressive attitude toward resource conservation and her love of nature. Last, but not least - the house should achieve LEED Gold Certification from the US Green Building Council. Some of the materials used to achieve this were site-collected stone and beetle kill pine. The rusted steel boxes and the gabion walls, built with the client’s help from locally sourced stone, join the building to the land.
8. Castle Creek, Pitkin County, Colorado, US, 2013
In an alpine meadow bounded by an aspen forest, sits this sophisticated single-level home, with incorporated fundamentals of passive solar design - openness to the south, minimal exposure to the north + the building tucks into the hillside. The butterfly roof minimizes heat gain in the summer while allowing the sun in the winter, and the light shelves can reflect the daylight into the interior. CCY’s inspiration for the roof came from the contradicting nature of the site - it required potential avalanche protection from above, and openness to the extensive sun-filled views from below.
9. Bridge House, Eagle County, Colorado, US, 2013
The clients wished to preserve the mature aspen grove surrounding the site and this posed a bit of a challenge for the construction. CCY Architects had to work with the topography to preserve the grove - they lifted up the main level to bridge over a slight swale, thus allowing the forest floor to flow beneath and protecting important drainage patterns. The gables were a community requirement, but the north roof sets up a lower secondary plane, linking the gables and the bridge.
10. Red Mountain, Pitkin County, Colorado, US, 2008
This house is located on a street with close neighbouring buildings, so the need for privacy was solved using a layered composition of architectural walls. This creates privacy in the outdoor spaces and shields neighbours, while also smoothly guiding movement. The key materials used in the interior and exterior are glass, board-formed concrete, blackened steel, and high-density fiberboard cladding. In the exterior, the preferred material is cladding due to its weathering capabilities. It purposefully overlaps with the steel to create a contrast to the glass and lighter concrete. In the interior, the more prevalent steel is combined with black smoked oak floors and ceilings extending the darker colour palette.