Project Location: Hopland, California
Owner: Glenn Berry, Kate Micawbar, Nicolas Sholley, Thais Harris
Completion Date: 12/01/2011
This building takes meticulous measures to be in harmony with its environment. It does so structurally, materially, and economically. Included, is harmony in how clients use the building and their needs. The building accomplishes this by using extraordinary conflicts between the clients’ wishes, tiny budget (under $190 per square foot) and the sites surroundings to shape the design.
The first conflict was how to frame three opposing views while at the same time, preserving each existing oak tree on site. Typically trees are removed to clear room for the views. In this case, the oaks are very old and precious to the clients. The views were so important because they were the client’s main reason for purchasing the property. Three locally known land formations can be seen from the site; “Eagle Rock”, a mountain ridge, and the valley of vineyards below.
To deal with the opposing views, three tubes extend like fingers precisely in between the existing trees, oriented toward each land formation. If positioning the building’s footprint to avoid the trees were the only issue, it would have been challenging, but a greater difficulty was that the roots of the trees were all over the site. A conventional poured concrete foundation would sever the roots and kill the trees. To deal with this, an arborist and surveyor helped us locate precise points in between the roots to anchor the piers to bedrock. The house was then constructed on stilts that sleeved into the drilled concrete piers.
We managed to find an area of ground in-between the roots where a tiny foundation could be poured, which stabilized the structure and was the one place where the building touched the ground. It was also at the intersection of the three views. We took the opportunity of having this tiny concrete foundation to construct a stair that allowed people to enter the building, and imbedded a communal tub with views to the vineyards below.
To cut cost as well as meet sustainability goals of the clients, the building was dimensioned using standard sized, off the shelf sheet-goods (unfinished plywood and OSB) to minimize waste, and the interior was clad in those same sheet-goods.
Often buildings placed in the landscape will attempt to either contrast to, or blend in with the surroundings, but we took a different approach. We clad the building in unfinished raw steel that changes color in the sun and takes on a life of it’s own due to naturally occurring “oil canning”. It creates a stunning backdrop for shadows cast onto it by the surrounding trees; creating a dramatic interplay between the façade and the shadows.
Double-D Engineering, Mark Lonning
Michael Ford Inc. Land Surveying
Chandler Koen Consulting Soils Engineer