A modernist-inspired mountain home outside of Aspen, Colorado, sports gorgeous wood paneling and concrete walls detailed in the style of Louis Kahn’s early architecture. Dreamed up by Madderlake Design for an active couple and their championship hunting dogs, the 7,500-square-foot Conundrum House and Studio brings a minimalist Japanese sensibility to the remote landscape of the Rockies’ Castle Creek Valley.

Design principal Tom Pritchard, a former long-time resident of Aspen, said his team was trying to create a twist on the typical chalet-like, rustic cabin. “We were aiming for luxury rooted in simplicity,” he said. “As you move throughout the house, from space to space, the details feel as if they came from the hands of craftsmen.”

The house integrates a chalet-like typology while retaining concrete elements to protect against potential debris.

The house pulls from the chalet typology while retaining concrete elements to protect against potential debris. (Brad Dickson)

But that personal touch was intentional. Madderlake selected materials that fell in line with this natural and effortless aesthetic, such as the simple graining found in Douglas fir, weathered western red cedar, and reclaimed heart pine that are featured on the floors, siding, and ceiling. According to Pritchard, mountain homes tend to be grandiose with massive logs and heavy patterns. Madderlake’s low-hanging, multistory structure combines stucco, soapstone, and Japanese plaster to bring the overall tone of the building back down to earth.

The couple’s studio sits at the highest point in the home. Windows by Albertini offer seamless views of the valley.

The couple’s studio sits at the highest point in the home. Windows by Albertini offer seamless views of the valley. (Brad Dickson)

One of the biggest design challenges Madderlake faced was protecting the Conundrum House from the threat of an avalanche. The design team incorporated a concrete retaining wall to complement the structure’s steel core and broke up the mass of the building by burying the majority of living spaces deep within the hillside. They then sculpted the landscape to minimize the impact of a potential snowslide.

Madderlake constructed a concrete impact wall that’s sculpted into the hillside. It provides additional support for the steel-framed structure in case of an avalanche.

Madderlake constructed a concrete impact wall that’s sculpted into the hillside. It provides additional support for the steel-framed structure in case of an avalanche. (Brad Dickson)

Though much of the house is underground, Madderlake designed the inside levels as a series of steps with small window units that diffuse light into the depths of the building. The result is a bright, inviting interior that’s as elegant as it is cozy.

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