This stunning Buck Creek vacation home has been designed by Fougeron Architecture on Big Sur’s spectacular south coast, anchored in the natural beauty and power of the California landscape. The architects design embeds the building within the land, creating a structure that is inseparable from its context. The site, which features a 250-foot drop to the Pacific Ocean along the bluff and toward the west, offers dramatic views. Yet it demands a more complex form than a giant picture window.
The long, thin volume of the house conforms to the natural contours of the land and the geometries of the bluff, deforming its shape and structure in response, much like the banana slug native to the region’s seaside forests. In this way, the complex structural system applies natural forms to accommodate the siting. The main bearing system of the house is set back twelve feet from the bluff, both to protect the cliff’s delicate ecosystem and to ensure the structure’s integrity and safety. The house itself is cantilevered over the bluff. The interior is a shelter, an elegant refuge in contrast with the roughness and immense scale of the ocean and cliff.
The main body of the three-bedroom house is composed of two rectangular boxes connected by an all-glass library/den. A one-story concrete wing perpendicular to the main volume holds the ground-floor bedrooms and features a green roof; it is the boulder that locks the house to the land. The lower of the two main volumes, a double-cantilevered master bedroom suite, acts as a promontory above the ocean, offering breathtaking views from its floor-to-ceiling windows. The upper volume is an open-plan space-kitchen, living room, and dining room-with a swooping ceiling, all clad in wood, that follows the shape of the land.
The house’s two main facades express both shelter and exposure. On the north, clear expanses of glass reveal ocean and coastline views; long strips of translucent channel glass dapple the light, playing on the sea’s shimmering surface. The south facade, clad in copper, which wraps over the roof, is mostly enclosed, offering a retreat from the forces of nature. Roof overhangs on the east and west protect the windows and the front door from the harshness of sun and wind.
Photos: Courtesy of Fougeron Architecture
Designed by Fougeron Architecture, Jackson Family Retreat is nestled on a wood site next to a creek and dominated by steep canyon walls in California’s Big Sur region. When the owners first commissioned the architects to build this fabulous home, local governing agencies were intent on leaving the land as it was-overgrown and uninhabited. However, working with ten consultants over three and a half years, all the necessary requirements were met to build a modernist 2,500-square-foot two-bedroom family retreat here.
The structure sits lightly on the land, respecting the ecologically fragile nature of the site, and is precisely attuned to its forces. A formal object in a natural context-like Stevens’s jar on a hill-the house holds its own in this tall, cavernous place, neither dominating it nor dwarfed by it.
The building is composed of four volumes made of different interwoven materials that create visually and spatially complex exterior and interior spaces. The main volume, clad in standing seam copper, runs parallel to the canyon. Its thin butterfly roof sits delicately above a band of extruded channel glass, connected to the roof structure by thin rods that are invisible from the exterior. These rodlike columns, which become wider as they go further down into the walls, are used to lift the entire structure two and a half feet off the ground, reducing its impact on the land. At both ends of the house, two-story clear windows frame views of the redwoods and the canyon ridge, bringing in vistas of the sky-sunny by day, starry by night.
A one-story volume in the front half of the house comprises all of the service functions-cooking, bathing, washing-while a custom steel-and-glass volume at the back opens to views of the creek. The fourth volume, the staircase, clad in stucco, acts as both the house”s seismic structural brace and a visual foil to the shimmering, transparent volumes floating around it.
The plan explores the tensions inherent in family getaways: open areas for communal living; private spaces for solitary retreats; and outdoor expanses for relaxation. A combination of transparent glass and extruded channel glass reflects and dapples the light throughout, creating a dynamic play of brightness and shadow.
Photos: Richard Barnes
Los Altos Hills Residence was an extensive renovation to a dated hillside home in Los Altos Hills, California by architecture studio Aleck Wilson Architects. The program was to open up the home to the view, to extend and integrate the decks with indoor-outdoor living and reorganize the flow of the plan. The architects sought to create a soothing palette, with carefully detailed materials. Striking features of the home include the glass central stairway that has an ethereal transparency that illuminates the interior of the three-story home. Custom stained wood slat cladding emphasizes circulation walls and creates a balanced counterpoint to the naturally lit stair. Custom lighting, furnishings and materials were selected by interior design firm The Wiseman Group and integrated with the architecture throughout the home.
3 Bar Residence has been designed by Aleck Wilson Architects as a modest new residence nestled on a wooded site in Larkspur, Marin County, California. The desire was to create a simple contemporary home that emphasized efficiency of materials and space, while capturing the essential elements of the site. This efficiency manifests itself in the compact 2,000 square foot size, as well as the simple use of materials such as the exposed framing and efficient systems such as the hydronic heat. The parti was simple, to use two rectangular stucco volumes to frame an implied space between them which is the core of the house. This space is partially occupied by the dining room which is flanked on either side by one sunny and one sheltered patio. The room is unique, with glass roll up garage doors to the two patios, making the dining area a true indoor/outdoor space when both are open. The dining table is on wheels, allowing it to be rolled onto an adjacent concrete patio as the family alternatively searches for sun or shelter. Large and strategically placed windows further the connection to the landscape and visually extend key views beyond the small size of the home.
Photos: Matthew Millman Photography
This renovation of a 1973 post-and-beam Eichler house in Palo Alto, California was carried out by YamaMar Design. The transformation included an expanded master bath, a kitchen makeover, new laundry room, installation of oak floorboards with radiant heating and new finishes and lighting throughout. The architects also replaced the mahogany paneling with regular gypsum-board painted white and applied several coats of white paint to the iconic Eichler tongue-and-groove Douglas fir ceiling. The cathedral ceiling and skylights make the home feel light and airy. The owners had recently moved to the bay area form Toronto along with their four small children. They fell in love with the original 3,000 square foot house, but were looking to put their own minimal stamp on the architecture, and create a light filled setting for their colorful artwork and furnishings. Interior design was carried out by Alison Damonte, who gave the home a burst of color with adventurous patterns and textures throughout.
A porch paved in concrete aggre-gate precedes the entry.
The living area’s cocktail tables in brass, glass, and acrylic are 1970’s.
Floorboards in the kitchen, other public spaces, and the bedrooms are oiled white oak.
In the dining area, Fredrik Mattson Verkstad’s pendant fixture hangs over Giusseppi Raimondi’s table and chairs near an Enzo Mari silk screen.
Wallpaper in a child’s room is by Given Campbell.
Rap lyrics feature in Arianna Orland’s prints in the master bedroom.
Wall covering in the powder room is printed Mylar. Thomas Sandell designed the powder room’s sconce.
In the children’s bathroom, ceramic tile backs a custom vanity in painted MDF.
The children’s bathroom is shared by three bedrooms off a single hallway.
The master bathroom was expanded.
Photos: Bruce Damonte Photography
This stunning contemporary property is an extensive remodel and second story addition of a previously non-descript home in the Sherman Oaks Hills area of Los Angeles, California by Koffka Phakos Design. The architects expanded the residence to a spacious living area of 5,000 square feet. The client, an entertainment executive, had envisioned the home to be a casual hang-out place for herself, her husband and two daughters, a retreat from her high-pressure work, but also a house suitable for large parties from backyard barbeques with friends to political fundraisers. As aesthetic guidance, the client gave the architects the motto or “Contemporary Barn.” The architects created a children’s wing on one side of the house with its own den for games and lounging with friends, and a second story on the other side of the house with a secluded master suite and gym. Both flank the “Barn,” a large open space with several seating areas and direct access to a large eat-in kitchen and the inviting back yard.
Photos: Courtesy of Koffka Phakos Design
Altamira Residence overlooks the Pacific Ocean nestled on a 20-acre site along the coast of the Palos Verdes Peninsula, California, designed by architect Marmol Radziner. The project consists of a 15,500 square foot complex with a main residence, study, guesthouse, and garage. The design was inspired by the natural topography of the site and the client’s interest in geology. Responding to the untouched feel of the land and the geography in the area, the home’s floor levels cut into the terrain, making the structures appear to be emerging from the earth. The house captures a series of views that encourage the journey through the site.
This expansive home is designed to maximize the stunning panoramic views. Concrete walls reference the cool colors of the ocean setting. The stone veneer, made from local shale, is warmed by wood casework and built-in furniture. Intimate furniture groupings emphasize the scale of the home while responding to the clients’ need for comfortable, relaxed living space. This play of proportion supports the desire to provide unobstructed views of the surrounding vistas while emphasizing the enjoyment of modern amenities in a rugged setting.
Photos: Benny Chan and Marmol Radziner
Lovell Residence is nestled among mature oaks in a beautiful open canyon in Mill Valley, Marin County, California, designed by Quezada Architecture. The contemporary redwood and steel jewel combines the relaxed Mill Valley lifestyle with luxurious style and grace. The entry breezeway separates the main house from the studio. The large studio with a wall of built-in steel and maple shelving also functions as a guest suite with its full bathroom and sleeping loft. Directly across the steel canopied and translucent glass breezeway with view deck is the large living room with phenomenal open canyon and wood views, two seating areas, a library nook, custom made cherry built-ins, fir beamed ceiling and a wood burning fireplace surrounded by leather tiles. Additional built-in cabinets line the hallway, providing storage.
A foyer with massive doors leading to the garden separates the master suite from the hallway. The suite itself features a luxurious bathroom with Jacuzzi tub, his and hers walk-in closets with cherry built-in cabinetry and French doors leading out to the garden.
Reclaimed timber adorns the staircase down to the lower level, where two bedrooms enjoy amazing views of the canyon.
The dining room showcases two large Italian hanging light fixtures.
The streamlined gourmet kitchen features Italian lacquered cherry Snaidero cabinets, black granite countertops, stainless steel backsplash and a complete line of high-end appliances; including a Wolff four burner range with grill and griddle, Miele hood, two Sub Zero refrigerators, two Miele Incognito dishwashers and Miele built-in coffee maker, steam oven and double oven. Informal seating is provided at the large island.
A pantry alcove leads to the powder room and mudroom/laundry room with Kenmore Elite front loading washer and dryer and utility sink. The mudroom also provides access to the carport.
The open family room has a custom steel framed bay window that frames the peaceful wood views. This room features a wall of redwood with hidden cabinets and recessed glass shelving, a Sony 55” flat panel TV with surround sound, acoustical panels and floating cherry cabinets. A stone and sandstone patio with planted bamboo is located off the family room with plenty of room for outdoor eating.
The hall bathroom boasts Philippe Starck fixtures and slate floors.
The half acre property is home to a seasonal creek, a tree house built into the mature oaks, an outdoor shower and access to wonderful hiking and biking trails.
The Carriage House is an Italianate Victorian dating back to 1870 gracing one of the largest city lots in Pacific Heights, San Francisco, California. After a family purchased the property they set out to renovate the 1920s carriage house in the rear of the property that sat dilapidated from years of neglect. Butler Armsden Architects undertook a complete overhaul of the interiors, gutting the space completely and creating a sleek yet comfortable modern retreat, while making much needed improvements to the historic exterior. It was re-purposed as an extension of the family’s living room with a Bulthaup kitchen, integrated audio-visual system, pool table as well as an office/library and guest suite for visiting friends and family. In addition to fitting out the carriage house, the architects also embarked to make the mature garden more welcoming and useful to the family. A gracious deck and staircase befitting of the historic nature of the house was built off of the main drawing room providing a much need link between house and garden. Rows of trees and strategic planting separate the parking area from the garden, which also serves as a sport court. Subtle score lines in the concrete and blue stone patterns define a basketball “key”, while also blending in with the overall diagonal concrete score pattern. An outdoor shower and hot tub complete the concept of garden oasis within the busy city. The interior decoration of this fabulous home was carried out by Angela Free Interior Design.
Photos: Courtesy of Butler Armsden Architects
Big and Small House has been designed by Anonymous Architects on Mt Washington, Los Angeles, California. Starting with an empty lot which was half the size of the typical minimum lot size, the objective was to maximize the interior volume of the dwelling. To achieve this there are only two full height walls inside the house which makes the main interior room nearly as large as the building footprint. This gives the 1,200 square foot house an open lofted feeling with very high ceilings and abundant natural light. It is an inversion of expectation, so that the smallest house contains the largest room. What the house lacks in square footage it provides in volume. The free plan of the vacant lot is preserved since the house touches the ground only at the four small piles, giving full access to use the space between the house and the lot. The footprint of the foundation is in fact less than 20 sq.ft. and the house doesn’t touch the ground at any point. The plan of the house follows the shape of the site which is an asymmetric parallelogram. This form resulted in unusual geometry inside and outside the dwelling and explains the shape of the house. The elevations of the house are designed to mirror the plan.
Photos: Courtesy of Anonymous Architects