Located in Emigration Canyon above Salt Lake City, the Wabi-Sabi residence, designed for a young family, celebrates a unique elevated canyon view with a rare and direct connection to nature.

The design was conceived as an expression of both static and dynamic elements. It's referencing the relationships among the mountain, vegetation, and wildlife found on the site. The term ‘wabi-sabi’ is an ancient, philosophical tenet of Japanese aesthetic culture that embraces the imperfect, incomplete, and transient. It espouses simplicity and honesty in expression, those modest things in our world that convey beauty as they weather and age. 

The Wabi-Sabi residence offers a distinctively high canyon vista with a rare and close relationship to nature.

At the home the homeowners enjoy the mountain vista from a uniquely-framed perspective. The home is separated into two cantilevered volumes that float above the landscape and are finished with a blackened stain. The north volume is oriented along an east-west axis to address the tranquil mountain views to the north and includes the home’s private, domestic functions.

The home’s grading was blended with the site topography as part of LEED Gold Certification goals, and to facilitate the retention of as much of the current storm runoff as feasible.

The southwest volume includes the more public, active gathering spaces and is oriented along the canyon axis toward dramatic views of the natural and urban landscapes. 

Running along an east-west axis, the north volume contains the home's more private areas - including a cantilevered outdoor patio featuring a spa pool - while the southwest volume contains spacious zones for gathering.

The exterior is clad with full-height, vertical cedar boards, which were sorted on-site. Construction waste was minimized through a preconceived modular, expressed in modest material selections. This considered approach to materials extends to the selection of interior elements, fixtures, and furnishings. 

The home offers a modern yet seamless transition to is natural surrounding.

This home includes an array of sustainable features. The window system was designed with operable openings at key locations to take advantage of natural site ventilation, thereby reducing the need for mechanical heating/cooling, and increasing indoor air quality. The vegetated roof is planted with local grasses, and the site is augmented with native and drought-tolerant plants and trees.

The use of integrated outdoor spaces and decks better connects the interior of the home to its landscape and exterior setting.
The dramatic view down the canyon, with city lights visible in the distance, is the primary focus of the great room.
Alternative views of the canyon become evident from every angle within the room.
The rough texture of the board-formed concrete walls both contrast with the refined beauty of the natural landscape beyond, and also compliment the rugged aspect of the site’s terrain.

Technical sheet

Architects: Sparano + Mooney Architecture

Photo credit: Lucy Call