Ridge House

Ridge House

Cary Bernstein | Architect
Sonoma County, United States
Project Year


Ridge House

Cary Bernstein | Architect as Architects

This new house is sited on a north-facing ridge overlooking the Dry Creek Valley. The clients sought to create a gathering place which is modest in scale and presence yet large enough to accommodate visits by an extended family of life-long friends and their children. The site and climate required an architecture that tempers the seasonally intense sun and wind while still engaging the spectacular landscape and views.

The 3,900-sf house orchestrates the inhabitation of the landscape by navigating across the ridge in plan and section. Considerations for the variable weather inform the language of the protective, undulating, butterfly roof. All rooms open to the outdoors to reinforce the primary relationship with the ridge. A large deck and continuous exterior walkways create outdoor rooms which expand the experience of the interior and make the narrow footprint feel more spacious.

The form of the house is a riff on local agricultural (barn) and residential (ranch) typologies. The logic of the building envelope and its materiality relate to the accumulated wisdom of vernacular construction yet diligently avoid imitation. Deflections in the plan, sections and elevations are modern gestures which acknowledge the site topography and relate to the rhythm of the ridge. As the building and its contiguous walkways weave up, down and around the terrain, the project defies reduction to a single image or formalist identity: it is a construction of, in and on the landscape. The landscape deforms the house and paths where they descend the hill, bump into boulders. The roof expands for the growth of a tree to grow and a set of stainless steel cables encourage a wisteria vine to cover the eastern deck.

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