Project Expands Architect’s Work in Sustainable Design

Boulder, Colorado – (April 28, 2006) – Gettliffe Architecture has begun design for a retreat in Crestone, Colorado, intended to revitalize people’s connection to nature and capitalize on the panorama of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains. The design of the 2,000-square-foot retreat is based on straw bale construction. The choice of material is ecologically sound, says Dominique Gettliffe, principal architect. The gentler lines of straw bale construction are similar to adobe walls and will complement the southern Colorado landscape. Gettliffe is designing the retreat for John and Carol Solvay, who have been attracted to the principles of straw bale construction since the project’s inception. The project marks a new addition to Gettliffe Architecture’s portfolio of services in sustainable strategies.

Gettliffe says the environment in which the retreat will be built also informs its design. The home’s characteristics of length and narrowness will preserve the site’s topography and old growth trees and shrubs, which also will lend privacy.

Essential to the design are the ways in which it enhances the relationship between people and nature. Design features include the following:

  • Every room offers an opportunity to step outdoors into the landscape, a patio or other outdoor room. A built-in bench just beyond a west-facing door will stage the sunset and evening sky
  • Views near and far are framed. The design frames views toward the Sangre de Cristo Mountains and San Luis Valley, as well as rhythms of sand dunes and other terrain immediately surrounding the structure.
  • The design extends into and complements the surrounding terrain. For example, the protection of a stand of trees to the north frames the outdoor hot tub room. The roof line of the single-story dwelling does not extend above the tree line.
  • Minimal impact on the land is an important intention of the design, and Gettliffe’s work will preserve the natural groundcover. The landscape will be restored to its natural state should any damage result from construction.
  • To bring natural lighting indoors, Gettliffe is using a simple construction system: by resting wood beams on the tops of the walls, he creates a clerestory, or void, below the plane of the roof. This admits additional natural light.

Gettliffe previously designed a mixed-use project for Solvay in Eugene, Oregon, that combined heliport, business offices and residence. The project is featured on the Gettliffe Architecture website, The site includes Gettliffe’s online portfolio and profile of the firm, including a section on sustainable architecture, or green design.

Gettliffe Architecture is at 3014 Bluff St., Unit 101, Boulder, Colorado. The phone number is (303) 449.9155.

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