Active growing children and a central urban house on a steep slope led the owners of this compound to think farther afield when considering a weekend escape. They found an idyllic site an hour and a half from home on which to stretch their legs. The couple rehired architect Malcolm Davis, who designed their primary residence, to help them define their project and build a rural counterpoint to their full-time urban dwelling. The idea was to enclose the structure as little as possible to maintain the sense of a camp, a building completely focused on the outdoors. The client’s original inspiration images included tents pitched on a deck and a possible prefabricated structure. The images and informal flexible program struck a chord with Davis’s Northern California Regionalist background. Louis Mumford defined the style as “a native and humane form of modernism… a free yet unobtrusive expression of the terrain, the climate and the way of life” on the coast and in the coastal valleys of Northern California.
Located on 165 acres, twenty minutes from the closest paved road, Camp Baird is situated on the sole generous level spot in a coastal valley dense with oaks and bay trees. The compound is completely off the grid, even cellular service is spotty. The concept placed two structures on the property; a car barn and a main pool house placed in an L-shaped orientation. The main structure responds to the climate and program whileforming a backdrop for indoor-outdoor living with areas that provide different levels of exposure to the elements. The three enclosed, multi-functional spaces on opposite ends of the central porch overlook the pool and can be heated by wood stoves. They are fully insulated, clad in plywood, and feature sliding glass door panels installed as "barn doors." These spaces can be used for any variety of activities: sleeping, gathering, lounging, yoga or playing games.
The cooking and eating areas are composed of "off-the-shelf" commercial kitchen equipment and located in the screened-in porch, augmented by a metal lined storage room to protect foodstuffs. The open porch faces south and east, lending itself to sun protection, and has a board-formed fireplace for both grilling and gathering. The primary shower is outdoors, completing the range of options for enjoying nature.
The buildings are durable and low maintenance, inside and out. CorTen walls and galvanized metal roofsreduce heat build up and minimize fire threat. The board-formed concrete pool evokes a rural watering trough, is solar heated and sits partially above grade. A snake fence (a 30" tall metal wall) surrounds the compound.
“The house is about the kids coming to play and being out in the country… it is not fully a house because it is a camp with a big shed roof structure and a big porch. The kitchen and main shower are pretty much outside… as architects, we stood back and let nature be the star.”