Tiny bungalow in Alberta's Foothills costs $2.9M but promises never interrupted mountain views

Tucked away in the Foothills west of Calgary lies a 704-square-foot bungalow designed by the world-famous architect James Cutler, who designed Bill Gates' home — and it can be yours for only $2.9 million.

Home west of Calgary was named Wallpaper Magazine's 2017 Cabin of the Year

The 1-bedroom, 1.5-bathroom Rock House tucked away in the Foothills west of Calgary is listed for $2,890,000, with 704 square feet of living space. (Justin Pennell/CBC)

A 704-square-foot home in southern Alberta is listed for an astounding $2.9 million.

Tucked away in the Foothills 90 kilometres west of Calgary lies a one-bedroom, 1.5-bath bungalow designed by the world-famous architect James Cutler, who designed Bill Gates' home.

The Rock House, as it's known, boasts a few novelty features.

A 1-bedroom, 1.5-bathroom bungalow located 90 km west of Calgary is listed at $2.9 million, even though it's just over 700 square feet large. 3:20

There's a trap door hidden in the kitchen floor. All of the glass was custom-made, and all of the metal beams were hand-soldered on site.

But the luxury property's biggest selling feature is its pristine view of the Rocky Mountains — which, thanks to a permanent conservation easement, can't ever be blocked, according to realtor Emma May.

The wall-to-wall custom-made glass allows natural light to illuminate the living room at 25 Carraig Ridge, Municipal District of Bighorn, Alta. (Justin Pennell/CBC)

The home, named Wallpaper Magazine's 2017 Cabin of the Year, is the first completed unit in a 283-hectare development known as Carraig Ridge, north of Ghost Lake.

The entire development is envisioned to be a "love story to the Foothills and to nature," May said.

A total of 44 private lots, ranging in size from 0.8 to two hectares, will complete the exclusive network of homes. Each one has been designed to blend seamlessly into the rolling grasslands and flowing rivers that flank the area. 

Next door to the site is a 600-hectare wilderness recreation site, which is protected by a conservation easement to ensure it is never developed. 

"When you buy a lot out here and a house out here, you actually end up buying your view corridor, which will never be interrupted," May explained.

'We don't want it to become a tract-housing, super tight, dense community. We want people to be able to enjoy the ponds, and the views and the forests, and get out and be in nature,' says realtor Emma May. (Justin Pennell/CBC)

Luxurious or ludicrous?

Dieter Laub, who's lived in the area since 2006, agrees that the mountain vistas are spectacular. But he says they don't justify a $3-million price tag for a home this size.

"Personally, I find it kind of ridiculous," he said. "You must have money coming out of your ears."

Area resident Dieter Laub throws his head back and laughs heartily when told that a nearby tiny home is listed at $2.9 million. (Justin Pennell/CBC)

But May says it's not all that ridiculous, especially compared to what's happening in other housing markets across the country.

"It's not crazy when you think of the piece of poo that you can buy in downtown Vancouver right now — which needs to be torn down — for $2 million," she said.

Architecture as art

May said the Rock House abides by a nonconventional standard of luxury — one that isn't synonymous with grandiose "McMansions."

The entire development is centred on the premise that nature itself is luxury, May said.

"There's an infinite amount of land out here, but the concept behind this project, the character, is to preserve as much of the land that you can, and then to build within that natural footprint."

And she said a growing number of people are looking to buy properties like this, not to live in, but to admire as collector's pieces.

"They do become almost art projects in and of themselves. It's not just, as you say, a building," she said.


With files from Paul Karchut and the Calgary Eyeopener