Windy Hill is the notable ridgeline known to the residents of Portola Valley, the exclusive rural enclave so enviably close to Silicon Valley. The owner had acquired a property with a fine view of Windy Hill to the south west, and wanted a home that would capture the views of the locally famous hill, as well as embrace the rural vernacular in a sophisticated, yet understated composition of building forms.
The site, while handsome, was not without its challenges. The southeastern side of the property was steeply sloped and heavily wooded with protected oak trees. And through the middle of the lot a small ravine ran, innocently dry most of the year, but with the capacity to become a running stream under heavy rains.
So the house was sited on the northern side of the property, set in a way to achieve maximum views of the oak covered hill in the foreground, and Windy Hill in the distant view. The whole composition is one of unfolding and layering. One enters through the oak grove, winding down through the trees to arrive at a carriage house and auto court. Straight ahead is an entry courtyard, framed by pavilion like wings.
Through the front door one senses a view beyond, but it is not revealed at first, but only after entering and finding oneself at another cross axis in the main living spaces of the house, which serves to direct and organize the main spaces of the residence, framing views close and distant. Final views from the Lanai like outdoor like living room pick up terracing lawns, and a lap pool, cleverly hidden from view from the main living spaces.
Architecturally, the building wings draw heavily on the rural vernacular: a series of gable-ended roof forms are casually linked together and clad in cedar shingles with dark trim. The whole composition settles into its setting modestly, and sits lightly on the land. Interiors continue the wooden materiality, using oak, fir, and cedar, painted in places, stained in others, to create a warm envelope of the defined spaces while blurring the distinction between what is inside and what is out.
Designed by Richard Beard while Principal at BAR Architects.
Design Team: Richard Beard FAIA, design principal; Lisa Victor, Project manager and interior designer; Jeremy Butler-Pinkham, Project Architect.
Project Team: Architecture: Richard Beard Landscape: Arterra Landscape Architects Builder: Alftin Construction Lighting Design: VITA PEHAR Photography: Paul Dyer