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Original Issue


The most famous round house in the snow is the igloo. Warm and practical, it combines the maximum amount of space with the minimum amount of wall-building. On these pages are two round houses built for sport in snow country. Below is a hunting lodge complete with sauna in West Fairlee, Vt., and on succeeding pages is a cylindrical ski tower in Sun Valley, Idaho.

The lodge, 26 feet in diameter and 20 feet high, is owned by Jack Powell, who is a hunter in Vermont and a racing sailor in Florida. It is built of tank-grade fir three and a half inches thick, encircled with silo hoops and kept in shape by a set of turnbuckles. The gray shutters close it up into a cylinder of wood. The semicircular living room (right) has a curved iron stairway, painted red, leading to two gallery bedrooms. Hunting on the 180 acres is mostly for woodcock and partridge, attracted by the old apple orchard and wild pear trees. White-tailed deer come down to the natural salt lick, and so does an occasional black bear.

The circular ski tower above, built on a 100-foot-square slope at the foot of a Sun Valley ski run, is the work of John M. Koppes of Ketchum, Idaho, who is his own architect, contractor, stonemason and carpenter. To create a medieval exterior he hauled 60 loads of stone out of the mountains. The heating system is simple and unusual and costs only $125 a year: Water piped from a natural hot spring a quarter mile away reaches the house at 165°. Until he broke a leg skiing, Koppes, who manufactures Scott ski poles for a living and makes wood sculptures in his spare time, did all the work himself. He built his bathtub, a trapezoid shape 6 feet long and 5 feet deep, by pouring concrete into a form, smoothing and patching the surface and painting it with epoxy paint. He made the fireplace out of an old boiler tank and built the furniture. Above, he is welcoming friends from the deck, and (right) supervising the last touches to his house in the round.

The stone walls of John Koppes' 26-foot-tall tower enclose a contemporary interior 24 feet in diameter, with five levels curving around a center stairway (above). Painted throughout in white, the inside walls and ceilings look like old adobe but in fact the walls are soft to the touch-they are made of insulating polyurethane foam. There are three entrances to accommodate varying depths of snow. Koppes' sculpture studio, a half circle on the first level, has a 10-foot ceiling and double doors opening onto an apron where he can work in the sun in summer. The second level is a half circle; the third and fourth levels (kitchen and sitting room) are quarter circles. The sitting room door opens onto a cantilevered deck made by extending the house beams of the fourth level. The bedroom forms a third of a circle on the fifth level. Arrow-slit windows (26 of them) look out in all directions on the Idaho mountain landscape, and the tower is crowned by a domed skylight.