The Entry Grove is the focal point of a meticulously detailed private residence in the Los Altos Hills. It uses a highly articulated and expressive tectonic of wood and steel to create a seamless transition from exterior to interior and an organizational locus for the two main wings of the house.
The directive from the client was to create a spectacular entry. We approached this by examining how the threshold of a door could be extended into a sequence of spaces, blurring the line between inside and out, where each turn of the path or crossing of a threshold revealed something new and unexpected, but also consistent with the spaces that had already been revealed.
The path to the house winds under and around the house, eventually ending at a small footbridge. Two sets of gracefully twisting steel rods emerge from a verdant carpet of ferns, rising past the bridge before expanding into a canopy of wood rafters tied together with a spirally wound rod. A second pair of columns sits just beyond the door in the main living space, framing an expansive view of the eastern hills across the southern end of San Francisco bay.
The columns support an enormous roof plane which extends over the entry, through the main living space, and out to the deck on the far side of the house. The roof floats above this sequence of spaces, surrounded by continuous clerestory windows which allow soft, natural light to filter throughout the space throughout the day. A skylight is cut directly above each of column, accentuating the rafters and creating warmth as light passes through the screen of wood rafters into the main space.
Inspired by structural principles found in nature, the custom fabricated steel columns and arrayed 2x4 Douglas Fir entirely support the main roof. A custom steel ring receives each wood rafter and accommodates variable cross-section orientations. The column itself is made of fourteen one-inch diameter steel rods twisted as they ascend to add buckling resistance and torsional stiffness.
The Entry Grove seamlessly integrates structural requirements and spatial aspirations in a way that is simultaneously surprising and natural. The significant technical acumen and high level of craft required to realize this vision is encapsulated within natural form and integrated material selections.