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Sonoma Retreat

Architect / Firm: Aidlin Darling

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Aidlin Darling



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Located on ten acres of rolling hillside above the town of Sonoma in Northern California this private retreat is a freestanding structure adjacent to an existing rammed earth house. Partially hidden amongst a grove of Oaks, Manzanita and Madrone, two curved earthen walls gently carve into the landscape to create the entry to the intimate retreat below. Topography, orientation and landscape are all considered in the choreography of experience, heightening one’s sense of discovery, privacy and ultimately the serenity of escape.

The building’s form is defined by a collection of simple rustic cedar boxes that provide a counterpoint to the surrounding landscape. These boxes not only define and anchor the contiguous spaces, but they create apertures that act as the entry to the retreat and outdoor shower. The rectilinear forms are in turn cradled by the curving walls, which allow the resultant space to burrow into the earth. A wood deck of reclaimed teak extends interior space out into the landscape, obscuring the boundaries between inside and outside. A canopy of cantilevered lodgepole pine floats above the roof, providing much needed shade to the southern face of the building and its’ sundeck. Trees to the south provide additional dappled shade at times opening to reveal the nearby foothills and views of San Francisco beyond.

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