The four-bedroom home is arranged around a series of garden courtyards that complement the home’s sweeping views over a pond to the Tetons beyond, creating a setting the owner’s call Tengoku, Japanese for ‘paradise’. Tengoku Residence embraces its natural terrain and injects a healthy dose of mid-century California modernism to the Rocky Mountain West of Jackson Hole in Wyoming.
Diverging from the mountain modern style typical of the region, the design of the 437-square-metre vacation home was inspired by the owner couple’s shared love of Japanese culture and mid-century design. There’s a strong contrast between the quiet, protected courtyard spaces and the long, dramatic views of the Tetons. The courtyards allow you to always have a direct visual connection with nature. As one moves through the home from one space to the next, there’s always the ability to connect with the outdoor environment. Weaving the house in and out of these courtyards, while maintaining consistent long views makes for a dynamic experience throughout.
The simple, linear façade is softened by a series of organically shaped roof openings that are mirrored in the three gardens below in each courtyard. Besides shaping the light in dramatic and serendipitous ways over the course of the day, the curved openings and the uninterrupted glass walls help to amplify the careful framing of nature taking place throughout the home. As the clients expressed early on, ‘the view is our art.’ Says Design Pricipal Kevin Burke from CLB Architects: ‘In this geographic context, this type of deliberate manipulation of form and integration of landscape is a bit of a surprise. You don’t often see this approach here.’
Inside, an angular S-shaped plan snakes around the courtyards, pulling apart the public and private spaces of the home. Each resulting zone of the house feels like a small pavilion, with access to natural daylight and ventilation on multiple sides to encourage passive ventilation. Operable clerestory windows also help circulate airflow in warmer months, while triple-paned windows, exterior rigid insulation, and full cavity insulation optimize heat retention in winter. The continuous roof plane stitches the building together into a unified form. Expressive overhangs and thin roof lines pick up on the mid-century aesthetic, as does the vertical western red cedar cladding in each of the courtyards.
A restrained interior palette of oak floors and white cabinetry keeps the focus on the landscape outside, with expressive moments of art, furnishings, and finishes offering pops of color and light. A translucent purple amethyst slab is integrated into a south-facing window at the entry, catching the light to illuminate the space in changing ways over the course of the day. Says Kevin Burke: ‘There’s an interesting play that happens throughout the day as the sun moves around the site and is drawn down through the courtyards. The circular openings help pull daylight into the home throughout the day. I love the curvilinear openings over the courtyards, which we nicknamed ‘the guitar picks. It was a chance to have a little bit of fun and whimsy, while also connecting to a mid-century modern feel.’
Large format slabs of Caracas blue limestone clad the home’s double-sided fireplace, which serves as an anchor for the living room and wraps into the den. Vintage furnishings sourced from the clients’ family, as well as Hawaiian monkey pod wood vessels, and pieces brought from the clients’ main residence on the California coast, create an expressive interplay with local Jackson artwork and modern pieces like a Roche Bobois sofa.
CLB Architects (architecture) | Two Ocean Builders (general contractor) | KLA (structural engineering) | Agrostis (landscape architecture) | Helius Lighting Group (lighting design) | Furnishings (owners) | photography Matthew Millman (winter)+ John Ellis (summer)