Driven by the stand of towering redwoods, this house responds to its context with quiet elegance. The house and landscape fluidly speak the language of the site. Angled roofs capture the verticality of the redwoods and distant views to the ridge beyond. Courtyard walls, planters and gravel terrace echo the strong horizontal lines of the meadow.
Using the clues from the site, the planting palette is native driven. Drought tolerant grasses, perennials and ferns celebrate the meadow setting. Toyon, western redbud and native dogwood, speak to the woodland edges. This indigenous planting style along with the courtyard fountain attract birds delighting our birdwatcher clients.
Stone walls with a bridge over the water feature create a memorable entry approach. Falling water over the steel weir punctuates the wall and creates a soothing courtyard experience. The result is a home and landscape that fully embodies the spirit of this unique environment.
Every site has a story to tell. It just needs a keen team to hear it. The clues begin revealing themselves with entering the site over a wooden bridge. Unique to the Santa Lucia Preserve, this site is set in a secluded dell. Defined by creeks on two sides, the predominant vegetation is riparian while an open meadow sits centered in the lot. The site has a protected feel, nested among these giants and yet distant views that entice you to look outward. Distant ridges can be seen through apertures in the stands of redwoods.
The design of the house, its siting and massing were well studied by the Architect and Landscape Architect. Engaging the distant views while preserving this special sense of place was the challenge. The home captures both aspects skillfully. Angled rooves tip upward to allow the eye to catch the distant skyline through the tree canopies over the creeks. Windows orient interior spaces outward, creating vignettes of the redwood fairy rings, like dioramas found in a science museum. The site is grounded and in balance with the surroundings.
Setting the stage with a quietly powerful foreground, the outdoor spaces compliment the architecture. The entry to the house is intentionally constrained by stone walls. The heights were set to unveil the spaces as one moves through the arrival court and into the main courtyard. The water feature, a hidden surprise for those entering, has a multipurpose function; it provides a focal point for the courtyard and creates interest for rooms inside the house. Crossing the bridge into the courtyard is a delightful way to know you’re home.
The materials palette is simple and straightforward, much like the character of the site. Stone site walls match the building facade. The stone colors are repeated in the gravel paving of the courtyard. Integral color concrete completes the ground plane. The only accent color in the composition is the blackened metal of the water feature spill wall and the skies reflections on the water in the stone basin.
This complimentary approach continues into the planting design. California hazelnut, wood fern, native dogwood and new redwoods extend the riparian character from the edges of the site into the building zone. The outdoor spaces in the center of the lot take inspiration from the natural succession found on site. In the more exposes, drier sunnier zones, the plant palette changes to native grasses, sages and toyon trees. Along the perimeter is the constant backdrop of towering dark green redwoods, quietly standing guard.
It all started with asking why our clients chose this lot. It ended in a perfect tribute to the sense of place found on this particular site.