Modern home recently completed on bluff overlooking New Mexico's Animas Valley

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Modern home recently completed on bluff overlooking new Mexico's Animas Valley

Drawing from its surroundings, the home’s construction emphasizes a site-driven expression of natural materials 

A custom modern home sitting atop a bluff overlooking New Mexico’s 85-mile-long Animas Valley recently completed construction, according to architect Jim Rothwell, who designed the project.

Designed to capitalize on the multiple views the site delivered, the overall plan for the house was straightforward—a long and narrow bar design—with upper level great room, dining, and kitchen centered within the bar, a private master suite with a study at one end, and a guest suite and study at the other. The lower level includes a second guest suite, a mud room, laundry, garage and storage sliding into the hill. A wine cellar and woodcraft workshop complete the lower level.

“After taking the time to understand and appreciate the power of the views, the clients decided on a strong yet simple form for the massing,” Rothwell said. “Which was essentially a direct response to the views, all coupled with a site-driven expression of natural materials.

Vertically, the house’s form is partially buried into a rise on the site’s narrow east end, with the exposed lower level wrapped in cast concrete with a heavy, irregular and rough board-form expression. This serves to draw attention to the gray limestone outcroppings found throughout the site. Above this raw and rough base, a more refined skin of Kebony modified wood cladding was used in a bi-directional pattern that interlocks the glazing. Kebony was specifically chosen for its natural wood texture and rich brown color, modified through an environmentally friendly, patented process which enhances the properties of the sustainable softwood. The wood cell walls are permanently modified, giving Kebony premium hardwood characteristics. Over time the material will naturally develop a silver-grey patina, minimizing maintenance without further use of finish treatment.

A simple, yet strong broad-eaved metal roof completes the form. Seen from the valley below, the home resembles the prow of the ship thrusting though a wave on the landscape.

The upper-level interior follows the sloping roof, with the exception of a flat ceiling in the kitchen. Interior finishes were selected to be consistent with the natural response of the exterior. The lower level features burnished concrete slab floors; the upper level floor throughout is a prefinished engineered European white oak, and all sloped ceilings were clad in American softwood. A neutral Sherwin Williams Eider White was selected for walls between the wood planes. 

The cabinetry was deliberately Scandinavian-inspired, with Euro-box natural walnut cabinetry, overglazed with black to slightly deepen the color. 

“The idea was strength in form, calm in approach, and natural in finish,” Rothwell said.

Photography: Marona Architectural Photography