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Canyon House by Paul Hirzel

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Nested atop a hillside, 300 feet (91 metres) above the Clearwater River, Canyon House is just 20 miles from the city of Lewiston, Idaho, United States. The retreat, designed by Paul Hirzel in 2003, was divided into two buildings: “the bunkhouse” and “the studio house” to encourage wanderings on the site.

The form of the studio house is a simple rectangular box inserted into a moment resisting wooden frame. The frame and box follow the ridge slope and a bridge extension provides access to path that leads to the bunkhouse. The west side of the frame is a brise-soleil that provides access for window washing and support for removable perforated sliding panels- for shading and wind protection. On the east side, the frame supports decks and a screened porch with an outside shower. Strategically placed operable windows on all four sides of the studio house allow updraft ventilation as summer temperatures in the canyon often reach over 100 degrees. Transparency increases (amount of glass) as the building steps down the slope toward the river… in a sense, giving the illusion that it is “taking off” from the ridge. The “lines” of the studio house contrasts the 30% slope of the site that is mirrored by the strong roof incline with the orthogonal frame of strong verticals and horizontals (a distant derivative of some of the mining structures in the canyon).

— Paul Hirzel

Drawings:

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Photographs by Art Grice and Sotheby’s International Realty
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