Modern in Alaska: House for a Musher

House for a musher is situated on a beautiful 20-acre plot at the edge of a small town surrounded by small lakes and meadows, designed by architecture firm Mayer Sattler-Smith. This 2,450 square foot house is an ideal place to take the dogs for a run into the untouched wilderness of Big Lake, Alaska. The client is a professional dog musher and a four time champion of the Iditarod, a 1,161 mile sled dog race from Anchorage to Nome. The family of four desired a “not so big house” and a view of “the” mountain from every room.

The design for the house is organized in an L-shape with a common space centered on the view toward the Alaska mountain range with ‘the high one’ as a focal point. Carefully selected locations for wall openings frame specific views of the Chugach Mountains and Mount Susitna. The bedroom wing extends to the west to allowing each of the bedrooms a view of Denali. The house is a refuge and prospect, a point of departure and return.

The 2,450 square foot house is complimented by a large outdoor courtyard and an accessible roof terrace. The courtyard provides relief from the overwhelmingly expansive natural setting, creating a wind sheltered space with sounds of trickling water, warmth of a fire and a scrawny black spruce tree relocated from the meadow below. The roof terrace offers uninterrupted views of the spectacular landscape and a show of the northern hemisphere sky at night with frequent display of the Aurora Borealis.

The owner mostly built the house by himself, materials and furnishings are simple and durable: local Alaskan yellow cedar cladding, a very durable and aromatic wood, lines the interior of the main volume in the house. Charred wood siding for the exterior cladding was chosen for its low-maintenance qualities as well as a reference to the area’s frequent wildfires. Sustainable considerations include a heat recovery ventilation system, triple pane glazing, and double furring in the exteriors walls. Via

Visit the website of architecture firm Mayer Sattler-Smith here.

Photos: © Kevin G. Smith Photography

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