Upon retirement, after spending a lifetime building other people’s dreams, Chris decided to keep working- but only to build his own designs. Ashley Creek was something he’d been thinking about his whole working life. He wanted to build a durable “green” residence for “retirement” which would work on or off the grid, endure fire, flood and neglect, and require minimal added non-solar energy to prevent damage from Montana’s famous cold winters. Because Montana is so beautiful, and riparian land is so rich with wildlife- it had to be intimate with water, have nice views in all directions and plenty of glass through which to appreciate them. No longer a kid, he also wanted to be close enough to town that he could enjoy the fruits of civilization, too.
These pictures are of the masonry structure, built from cheap cement blocks (CMU’s) reinforced with a 5/8″ welded rebar frame inside. The result is a very strong, durable, fire proof, flood proof cheap and easy to home-build structure with only marginal construction equipment, and basic skills. It’s come through one mild earthquake already, undamaged. It’s designed to live in 12 months per year at minimal overhead cost, but also to be left with no power required for up to six months without damage to structure or contents while waiting out Montana winter- basking in tropical climes- if desired, like most of the customers he served without the problems they typically endured when they returned.
We call it a “cocoon” house, small well insulated climate controlled spaces inside a larger “solar tempered” masonry and glass/ earth sheltered space where multiple interior climates are created and kept isolated, which will support different indoor plants, aquariums, terrariums and pet-friendly spaces. It remains to be finished, and only then will we know if it works as planned.
Ashley Creek 10 acres
You begin with the land, the water, wildlife, the views. Then, you design the house. Satellite images distort, the house isn’t really falling into the creek…