When building a house on land as beautiful as that found in Blue Mounds, Wisconsin, you run the risk of ruining an untouched terrain. Here, Johnsen Schmaling Architects created a house that instead echoes the rolling hills and carved valleys of a landscape known as the "driftless region." The Topo house is so considerate of the surrounding landscape that it seems to become part of the topography. And its unique design has earned it a Residential Architect Design Award.
Instead of sitting flat on the ground, the lower level of the building is partially burrowed into the earth. It emerges gradually, giving off the impression that the house is growing from the land. The building’s copper roof follows the same ascent. When viewed from above, the vegetated roof looks like an extension of the green-carpeted fields below.
Measuring 2,910 square feet, the house was one of Residential Architect's winners of the custom home category for designs fewer than 3,000 square feet.
Though the Jury thought the project was a bit contrived at times, they praised the design for taking its cues from the landscape. "It’s super ambitious," said juror Josh Shelton. "And it has many specific ties to the site that cry out against generic modernism. In that way, it’s a model of what residential architecture should be."