Snowy Places – An Architectural Experience

Looking for a different architectural experience I flew to Colorado state. I’m an architect born in a region of Brazil with a warmer climate, and where the minimum temperature in the Winter is never less than 41 Fahrenheit.

So, when I’ve moved to the USA, I began searching for new cities to visit, mainly cold-weather cities. To understand the culture, how the architecture has its effect on people, and how it protects them from the lower temperatures.

Denver concrete building


Over the decades, the urban form has been changing, and Denver is one of the cities where the physical structure is equipped differently about climate conditions and topography.

The urban physical forms interact with the urban social life, and whether the harsh climate has had any impact on urban planning, Denver has been showing perfectly how this works.

The city has one of the most impressive, innovative, and efficient city skylines in the country. Most of the new buildings show postmodern architecture; buildings USA Green Building Council-based, and constructions on the hills.

The physical structures mix different kinds of materials; cast-in-place concrete, granite, brick, stone, and terracotta remains. Even with the harsh cold weather, we can notice in its building process the use of the glass a lot, including geometric skylights made from plexiglass.

The merging of materials shows a significant and attractive architecture. What is curious for me, once in Brazil, modern architecture seeks a unique design, pure, and clean; using less material diversity.

With postmodern architecture, Denver preserves its historic buildings and places without losing the city’s shine. The view, mixing the modern and the historical, is a unique scene.

Walking tour was my choice to experience Denver places and spaces with their historical, modern, contemporary, and iconic architectural significance. What a great experience!


Downtown Golden


Around Denver there are several small towns, but no less charming. I’ve visited two of them and was very impressed by them. Rural areas, surrounding Denver creating a single landscape.

The Historic Center of Golden, is full of well-preserved buildings, exposed brick on all sides as if the architecture needed to show its foundations (what I very much appreciated, really!).

In between so much snow and exposed bricks, it is impossible do not to notice very modern constructions, houses with a project complexity worthy of large cities.

And, also, an infinity of new enterprises appearing in the middle of this rural-urban landscape.


House by the Mountain in Boulder


Boulder was the other one I’ve visited, the town shows that the mountains can be inhabited!!! Houses are built hidden in the mountain vegetation (and, at the same time so inside of the urban areas, which is curious, at least for me).

Over there, I was wondering how people could drive up there, to get in their places on very snowy days? Okay, I know there are 4×4 cars and tire chains, but in my eyes, those mountains are a level up of my reality!!!

This area, driving, is 50 minutes far from Denver, and it has such remarkable characteristics. As its nature, its mountains and rivers, all very well preserved, is visible how the people who choose to live there showing great respect for nature.

I was even questioning myself why I’m not living there? It has everything I like, impressive architecture, design, nature, the nicer people I’ve ever met.

Then, thinking a little more deeply, my desire passed very quickly. I’m Brazilian, born and raised at 45 Celsius, which means 113F degrees of temperature for almost eight months a year, I would, definitely, freeze in that area!


Ricardo and Carla in Winter Park Resort

Winter Park Resort

For me, talking about snow and mountain, make me, always, thinking about sports activities like skiing, snowboarding, ice skating, and others.

I’ve spent a few days in Winter Park Resort, with the same thought, to experience the snow towns as a whole. Understanding how people are using the mountain resources to have fun in winter and how hospitality architecture behaves in this climate.

The fusion of structural components once again appears in evidence, but with even more exposed materials, such as wood and steel. Of course, there is something historic in the use of wood in building cabins (Log Cabins).

Here, I’ve noticed, they use the materials to create another level of architecture, wood, metal fittings, stone, and lots of glass. As if the buildings seek for the best views of the mountain making part of it.

I dare to compare the ski resorts in Colorado with beaches in Brazil, as a family program, happy, for all ages, something democratic, a perfect union between people, and Nature.

I started to understand a little bit more about the functioning of architecture in the cities during the winter here in the United States. But, of course, my research is far from over.

I have an immense need to understand people and their way of interacting with the city, it fuels my creativity and strengthens me to be able to create more efficient buildings for the world.

My time in Colorado has been an exciting architectural experience.

Looking forward to a new adventure!


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House at the Mountain in Boulder House at the Mountain in Boulder