An entrepreneur and family with a passion for health living requested a large home on their dramatically sloping 2-acre site. They specifically wanted an informal layout that could be woven into the topography of the property. Wanting to enjoy as much of the site as possible, the client requested the inclusion of steps and landscape pathways to allow for access to more distant parts of the steep site.
Situated on a promontory jutting into the canyon below, the hillside retreat boasts multiple vistas of the surrounding canyon and the Pacific Ocean beyond. Since covenants, conditions, and restrictions associated with the property allowed for only a single story above street level, many of the home’s rooms are located on a lower level which daylights onto the downslope side of the house. This modest massing arrangement allows for neighboring properties to see over the roof of the home.
In three distinct locations, landscaped topography “fingers” heighten one’s awareness of the natural hillside. Bridges span over these fingers, enhancing and extending the natural graded areas deep into the heart of the home.
The design solution offers new perspectives for experiencing the owner’s prized views while providing a glimpse of the topography as it stood before the house was set upon it.
Meticulous craftsmanship and authentic building materials are recurring themes best exemplified by the widespread use of board-formed concrete walls, white oak shiplap wall cladding, and painted galvanized steel doors and windows.
A datum of wall elevations was carefully laid out to align the joints of the seemingly random board-formed concrete with the adjacent wood boards that come in 3”, 4”, 5”, and 6” widths. Floors, ceilings, steps, lighting, speakers, keypad controls, and outlets were all carefully placed so that no element ever interrupts a joint in the boards.
SPECIAL CHALLENGES / UNUSUAL CHARACTERISTICS:
The home’s location on a promontory half-way into a deep canyon make users susceptible to a daily wind pattern which picks up in the early afternoon and recedes during the early evening hours. The client requested a solution to this unique site characteristic that would allow them to use their covered terrace in the afternoon and into the “golden hour".
By combining recessed track hardware originally designed for interior operable wall systems in convention centers with custom aluminum framed “wind screen” panels clad in perforated metal the design team fashioned a site-specific system. Typically stacked against concrete columns when not in use the homeowner can quickly deploy the 4 feet wide top-hung panels into a series of pre-set positions to counteract the winds or mitigate heat gain.
During wildfire season the site is threatened by blazes capable of rushing up the canyon. As such, the residence’s cladding and landscaping elements consist of non-combustible and ignition resistant materials intended to reduce fuel for the fires.
Special measures were taken by the designers and concrete contractors to reduce the thermal bridging typically associated with reinforced concrete walls. Before the concrete was poured, 2” thick rigid insulation was placed into the center of the 14” thick concrete walls. This results in an increased R-value in the walls without sacrificing the look of a monolithic concrete wall.
Additional features such as a custom stormwater rentention system, hydronic in-floor radiant heating, and dedicated solar panels for heating the pool augment the sustainability of this home.