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These Architects Are Blending Living Spaces Into the Environment

By Linda Hayes | January 12, 2021 | Home & Real Estate

Viewed from the living room of this CCY project, an infinity-edge pool engages the surrounding environment. CCY collaborated with landscape architect Connect One.

Around the Roaring Fork Valley, designing a nurturing environment has become second nature to architects. A lot of it has to do with the intrinsic sensibilities of their clients.

“We’re so lucky that a lot of our clients have the attitude that the aspect of rejuvenation, restoration and reconnection here really benefits them,” says John Cottle, principal of CCY Architects ( in Basalt. “To me, connecting to the natural world is a building block of wellness. It’s a great way to think about design."

For a 14,000-square-foot home nestled into a meadow set above a mountain stream, Cottle and his team followed the simple premise of architecture being submissive to the environment. Sections are tucked into the earth, minimizing visibility from above. A “glass link” acts as entrance to the home, providing a connection with views and ushering in light to a descending stairway. “There’s a comforting effect,” he says. “It awakens your spirit.”

A CCY Architects project features a “glass link” that ushers light into the home

For clients with a more direct and purposeful approach to well-being, John Rowland, principal of Rowland+Broughton Architecture and Interior Design ( in Aspen, designed a custom workout space adjoining the master bedroom as an integral part of their home. “For [our clients], exercise is mandatory, and having it available in their home was key,” he says. “We did a custom hot yoga room with a special mechanical system that accommodates a state-of-the-art heating program. It quickly takes the room to 105 degrees and then cools it down.” The flexible space also contains a trainer bike, which the owner often rides while the room is heated. “After that, he can open the patio doors and slip into the pool for laps.”

Rowland and his wife, and Rowland+Broughton principal, Sarah Broughton, designed and built their LEED Gold-certified home in Aspen a few years ago. Reinforcing the importance they place on the indoor- outdoor connection, the home’s interior living area fully expands to include a year-round covered back patio with flexible cooking and dining areas. Warmed by a fire pit, the space also features a custom bocce ball court, which doubles as the home’s storm-water filtration system. Essentially, the home is a welcome respite for both its owners and the environment.

A garden patio off the master bedroom opens organically to the outdoors, and a hillside pagoda offers space for relaxation.

In addition to housing a significant collection of art and artifacts, including petrified fossils and industrial relics, the clients of Zone 4 Architects (owned by Dylan Johns and Bill Pollock) mandated a strong connection with the natural surroundings for their eclectic riverside Aspen home.

Large doorways—opening to an ample tiered patio sculpture garden (filled with native plantings and succulents) off the lower-level master bedroom—allow the homeowners to move exercise equipment outside. Multiple zones of varying privacy and purpose, including a hillside cabana for sunning, a riverside fire pit and an outdoor kitchen accommodating as many as 30 guests, provide seamless interaction with the essential elements of air, fire, water and earth. All of this made the design experience interesting and challenging. “It was fun to work with the design program, open to the land and in relation to the house,” says Johns.

It’s all part of Zone 4’s approach to ensuring design and the environment flow seamlessly—and it’s now a mission. After all, the firm also is the architect for Zen O2 Yoga ( studio in town. Namaste.