Barkow Leibinger

Barkow Leibinger
Schillerstraße 94, D–10625 Berlin
T +49(0)30 315712 -0 F -29

5280 House, Bozeman Montana

This live/work compound is situated against the foothills of Mt. Elis along Leverich Creek on a gently sloping site facing Bozeman MT. and the Bridger Mountain Range. The region around the house is characterized by a mix of farmland with barns and ranch houses, suburban housing, and a nearby Richard Neutra house in log construction. Several other excellent mid-century examples of houses by Hugo Eck and Ozzie Berg are nearby including his Breeden Fieldhouse at Montana State University from 1957 which was the world largest span glu-lam timber structure in the world. Winters are extreme, summers are short.

Bozeman, which used to be considered somewhat remote, has become a much sought-after community to live in through the Corona pandemic. The advent of digital communication technologies (Zoom etc.) transformed similar cities into more viable places to live and work.  

As a courtyard house, it is both extroverted (capitalizing on beautiful views onto the mountains to the north and onto the creek) and introverted (orienting towards a central atrium with a river rock garden and local aspen trees.) A courtyard house is an unusual typology for Montana, as it is typically found in the southwest, and it allows for a good response in creating privacy while allowing expansive views and orientations. Its location on an L-shaped 5-acre site only further expands such notions, as it protects the house in case of possible future neighborhood densification. 

The house is situated on a square-planned concrete slab, which steps incrementally and diagonally down and up with the slope of the site – garage at the highest point and master bedroom at the lowest. A continuous concrete retaining wall defines the southernmost edge of the house and screens from the nearby neighbor. The flat roof is constructed of glu-lam timber and organized as a pinwheel in plan. The constant elevation of the roof over a stepped ground makes the rooms grow incrementally taller toward the lowest point (master bedroom) in height.

There are two detached enclosed L-shaped wings of the house, which are opposed to each other in plan. The larger one contains the 2-car garage, entrance foyer, guest bedrooms, kitchen, living spaces, and master bedroom, while the smaller one contains a design studio, and bath/ sauna and orients to the creek. The roof unifies the two enclosed areas, and the central atrium garden provides a common space for the entire house. The continuous roof covers two outdoor terraces, one more open and facing the creek, while the other is protected by the retaining wall, organized around an outdoor fireplace, and oriented towards the courtyard.

The house is constructed in timber. Not only is wood construction at the core of an American vernacular, but it has also increased in relevance to our practice as one of the most sustainable means of construction for low rise and high-rise construction. On-site wood balloon framing and partially prefabricated timber glu-lam roof beams, plywood sheathing, and cedar siding (inside and out) are the primary construction elements. Such simple assemblage, but well insulated and combined with highly insulated wood windows and doors is a viable, robust, fast, and economical construction system that reaches toward CO2 neutrality. It is also a means of building that is readily understood and buildable by a local craft and construction workforce.

The expansive transparency and openness of the house in at-times harsh Montana climate is achieved by situating the heat source of the building into the polished concrete floor slab. The organization of the house program into separate wings allows for the house to “close down” to selected heated areas in winter - saving energy simply and as needed.  Additionally, outdoor covered terrasses can be enclosed as heated spaces in the future if desired.

The courtyard house offers a viable model for working and living. It is a historical typology of enduring quality that has been upgraded, here, for a more technologically inter-connected age: self-reliant, extroverted, and introverted. 

Project Information


Barkow Leibinger, Berlin

Frank Barkow, Regine Leibinger


Frank Barkow (Partner), Kate Bilyk, Annette Wagner



Residential, Workspace



Bozeman, Montana, USA



3,400 sq ft |  315 qm



August 2019 - November 2020




General Contractor

OSM Construction, Bozeman, MT


Structural Engineering

Bridger Engineers, Bozeman, MT   


Landscape Architect

Lillian Montalvo, Los Angeles, CA

Iwan Baan, Amsterdam