The clients, a composer and a photographer, wanted a small house to replace a dilapidated shack on their secluded Northern California land. Due to the intense pace of their career and travel schedules, the house was conceived of as a bucolic refuge that was inspired by, drew from and connected to the land. The clients view of their role as custodians of this beautiful land bolstered their motivation to design and build as sustainability as possible – an objective shared by the architects as well. The site and surrounding vistas consist of rolling hills with a dense cover of native California trees.
Much of the old shack was carefully deconstructed to allow salvaging of the wood. Even more significantly, wood was harvested from the 40-acre property to provide for Douglas Fir structure and framing, Redwood siding and ceilings, Oak flooring, and Chinquapin millwork. This use of trees from the land went beyond the romantic notion of living off the land; it underscored the house's aesthetic character and achieved numerous positive environmental objectives. The careful selection of trees to be harvested left the most handsome trees intact, enhanced the beauty and health of the woods, thinning the forest enough to mitigate fire hazard - a severe concern in the region, and reducing the material carbon footprint.
The house is conceived as the artists’ haven for contemplation, creation and renewal. The result is a wood, glass and galvanized aluminum barn-like loft of elongated proportions, located for optimal solar orientation and to maximize the amenities of the site. The long north side of the building has minimal windows, both, to provide privacy from the driveway to the house, and to enhance the building envelope energy efficiency. The south side, blessed with a spectacular view and southern sun, is bordered by a continuous arcade that shades the expansive view from the window walls in the summer, but allows wintertime warmth and light. The main level consists of the living, dining, kitchen and study areas, plus a guest suite. The only room on the level above is the master bedroom which overlooks the tall living space and adjoins a sleeping porch. Accentuating the extended geometry of the house is a long shallow storage element with blind wood doors which together with the main house flanks the entry gate.