One of the mountain slopes above the Mountain Village core will soon be the site of a forward-thinking, environmentally sound residence. The Design Review Board of Mountain Village recently approved the design of a 5,000-square-foot home designed by architect Tommy Hein.
Called “Epic Diamond,” the design of the glass, steel and wood building is intended to incorporate the mountainous geography of its location. The Epic Diamond design features panoramic floor-to-ceiling windows and spacious terraces. For this project, Hein envisioned “light-filled glass spaces that interact with the mountain.”
Although the physical footprint of the house is quite large at 5,000 feet, the style of its construction aims to decrease environmental disturbance, according to Hein, who has worked as an architect for 27 years.
“I’ve always wanted to be the bridge between luxury living and sustainability. I don’t think the two are mutually exclusive,” Hein said.
For Hein, it is important to design buildings that minimize their environmental impact. Along with the late Glen Harcourt, Hein helped create the local green building codes during the 1990s.
“I try to offer creative options while being sensitive to the hillsides and our surrounds,” he added. “A mountain house should be sensitive to its particular place.”
In his architectural designs, Hein wants to reimagine what a typical mountain home can resemble.
“We’ve been trying to move away from log construction. It’s really unsustainable,” he said. “I just encourage people to be open-minded about what buildings will look like in the future.”
For Liz Charbonnet, who will own the Epic Diamond house with her husband, Dan Odea, Hein’s innovative ideas have worked out well.
“I simply told Tommy ‘epic’ and he delivered big time,” she said.
Charbonnet’s appellation of the project as “epic” is what led to naming the design Epic Diamond. The lot is diamond shaped.
Hein aims to respect the natural space. Through his recent projects, he has been working to explore Telluride’s geography, while also making buildings more sustainable. This newest design uses the natural geography of the hillside to protect the house from the elements. In the winter, the hill helps the building maintain heat and in the summer, the shade will keep it cool. Hein charted the sun path so that the spaces receive sun even when it’s low in the winter sky, and he designed overhangs to shield it in the summer.
“Earth sheltering is an optimal way to receive insulation,” Hein explained.
The Epic Diamond project will also include super insulation. According to Hein, the Epic Diamond home will require approximately half of the energy that a normal house does. If the final design includes solar panels, the total energy consumption could come out to net-zero.
When asked about the energy output of larger houses compared to small, Hein explained that he designs spaces based on client requests, while trying to be conscious of the environmental demand of a house. All the homes that Hein designed in town are of a smaller scale.
“To me size is not the issue,” Hein said. “We are constantly trying to make spaces more efficient. We are aware of it and we try to make programs that are most accommodating for large families and guests in the least amount of acreage possible.”
The building’s core materials were chosen with the environment in mind. The steel and wood are recycled, and Hein sources wood from wood brokers, old beams and recycling companies across the U.S. The majority of the stone is “site-quarried,” meaning it originates from the building site itself. Hein tries to use as much rock from the hillside for both environmental and aesthetic reasons.
“Site stone and moss informs the whole color palette — the greens and grays. My inspiration comes from being intuitive about the land,” Hein said.
The owners were striving for something singular.
“We wanted something that respects the natural environment, but also something that is totally our own,” Dan Odea said.
For all his projects, Hein spends a lot of time on the site.
“I try not to imagine what a house will look like before. I’m purely process oriented.”
Odea explained that the design was fully Hein’s vision. Odea and Charbonnet outlined the initial layout of the house and how the spaces will be used. They especially wanted to maximize the views of peaks without having a very long driveway, which is why the house winds up the hill.
Hein is grateful for the town of Mountain Village’s openness to new designs and projects.
“Our heartfelt thanks and gratitude to the DRB board members and town staff who embraced the design and its direction for 21st century architecture in Mountain Village," Hein said.