• Locate structures at the edges of clearings.

• Place buildings on the south side of dense

vegetation or mountain slopes to ensure

adequate sun for heat and light.

• Use low vegetation on the north side to

anchor buildings to their sites.


Figure of building reflecting its rocky geological setting


Figure of a building on the edge of a clearing with good sun exposure


Figure of structure located at transition point of slope and vegetation


Figure of a structural form that echoes a landscape form



Mountain buildings and structures can be

dwarfed by the grandeur of the soaring forests

and rugged geological formations that surround

them. Mountain buildings set within overscaled

landscapes often include overscaled building

elements, such as oversized doors and windows,

heavy timber structures, and boulders incorporated

into the building base. Such elements help humans

relate to the overpowering scale of the landscape.

• Use simple, compact forms.

• Break up larger buildings with similarly

shaped smaller masses.

• Repeat simple forms.

• Use large-scale building materials

(such as boulders at the base) to

match the scale of the landscape.


Figure of building entrance that demonstrates use of large-scale materials

Figures of good examples of building forms:

·       Simple building form

·       Repetition of simple forms that are attached

·       More complex forms in the lower altitude that simplify with the higher altitude



Roofs should convey a strong sense of protection.

They typically dominate the architectural


• Echo topography with the roofline.

• Increase pitch as the site steepens or as

the forest becomes more vertical.

• Use alpine roofs with flatter pitch to avoid

snowshed problems.

• Avoid complex multiple roof forms such as

those that combine shed and gable dormers.

These create “valleys” that trap moisture

and cause maintenance problems.

• Provide broad overhangs at sites enclosed

by landforms or vegetation.

• Provide modest overhangs at exposed,

windy sites.


Figure of an inappropriate complex roof.


Figure of building with simple dormer elements.


Figure of roof pitches varying with the verticality of landscape and the setting:

Broad valleys with a pitch of 4:12 to 9:12

Foothills with a roof pitch of 6:12 to 10:12

High mountains with a roof pitch 8:12 to 12:12

Alpine with a flatter roof pitch



The base functions as the transition from the

landform to the mid-wall, creating a sense

that the structure is growing out of the site.

• Anchor the building into the site with a

strong base.

• Use a uniform base on moderate slopes to

provide a platform for the building.

• Step the base on steep slopes or for large

buildings to match the forms and volumes

of the building.


Figures of buildings with a type of base to avoid:

cut and fill, and

structural platform


Figures of buildings with an appropriate base:

·       Base that takes up the grade

·       A stepping stone base that responds to the grade

·       A stepping base on steep slope

·       Base can “grow” out of the stone outcroppings

·       A weathering base in snow with slight batter to stone and larger stones at the bottom



Walls can appear to be thick and substantial,

with heavy corners. Emphasize corners through:

• Using larger materials.

• Making them solid—avoid placing windows

and other openings in the corners.


Figure of a building suggesting the wall area be less dominant than the roof and base.


Figure of a building with appropriate walls with strong corners.



• Concentrate windows toward the center of

wall planes to emphasize the mass of corners.

• Express windows as “punched” openings

within solid, massive walls.

• Recess windows into the wall face to

emphasize building mass and to protect

windows from weather.

• Extend and slope window sills to shed water.

• Build a large porch to serve as an outdoor

extension of the building.

• Construct a vestibule or airlock for comfort

and energy efficiency.


Figure of windows and openings to avoid:

Flush windows with boxed frame


Figures of appropriate windows and openings:

·       Large windows

·       Porch as an outdoor room

·       Recessed windows

·       Clusters of effective vertical windows

·       Sloping sill with drip



• In buildings designed for public use, express

the structure by exposing wood beams,

trusses, brackets, or framing.

• Handle cosmetic expressions of structure—

such as nonstructural log beams—with care.


Figure of a building with a well-defined main entry expressed with timber frame elements.



• Use stone, wood, heavy timber, and other

natural materials when they are available

and practical to use.

• Substitute manufactured materials, such

as synthetic stone, if they can achieve the

appearance of natural materials. The key is

to make the scale, color, and texture of

materials correspond to the setting.

• Consider costs and availability in remote



Roof Materials

• Design to achieve the look of cedar shake

shingles using such substitutes

as heavy-textured asphalt shake


• Use metal if sensitively designed.


Figure of a building with appropriate characteristics:

• Structure exposed

• Stone and timbers openly expressed



• Analyze the local landscape for indigenous

colors and materials.

• Use color schemes that are inspired by rock

outcrops, leaves or needles, tree trunks and

bark, and colors found on the forest floor.

• Dominate the palette with earth tones.

• Integrate colors with natural materials

where possible.

• Use accent colors drawn from accents of the

setting: the green or orange-rust of lichen,

the red-brown of red-twig dogwood, the deep

burgundy of willow stands, and the ivory of

aspen bark.


Figure of the base of a tree suggesting use of natural colors:

• Warm grays of bark

• Light browns

• Rusty brown of needles

• Earthy rose of rocks

• Pale greens of lichens

• Deep forest greens of trees

• Golden brown of pinecones

• Yellows & violets of wildflowers used as accents




Chapter 4.6 Table of Contents

Reader’s Guide