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Montana Cookhouse

Fernau + Hartman Architects

Livingston, Montana
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Site Size: 17,000 acres

Project Size: 2,800 square feet

Program: The Cookhouse is the latest project in an ongoing renovation of an abandoned homestead in rural Montana. Over the last 15 years, the clients have renovated and expanded a number of structures for a working ranch and family vacation compound. The 2,800-square-foot Cookhouse is meant to be the hub of ranch activity; its kitchen and living areas are large enough to accommodate extended family dinners and community gatherings.
The architects were charged with designing a structure that would complement—but not overwhelm—the neighboring buildings. The severe climate in south-central Montana was a major concern; temperatures can fluctuate by as much as 115 degrees and 75-mile-per-hour wind gusts are not uncommon.

Solution: At one-and-a-half stories, the house, clad in stained wood, complements the other clapboard structures. The orientation of the house is east-west so the narrow ends point into the wind, while an overhang shields the wrap-around porch. Dormers in the steep, gabled roof provide additional light and ventilation.

In planning the living spaces, Fernau + Hartman organized the house, completed in September 2012, around a central axis containing a long gallery for the client’s collection of Western art. On the first floor, a mudroom, pantry, kitchen, dining, and living spaces branch off the central gallery, while a master bedroom and children’s room extend off the gallery on the second floor. The axis also connects the entire house to a thermal chimney projecting from the roof, which keeps the house cool in the summer. In the winter, geothermal heat and wood stoves warm the house.

Fernau + Hartman Architects
2512 Ninth St. No. 2
Berkeley, CA 94703
t: 510-848-4480

February 2013
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