This magnificent artisan estate was designed by renowned architect Christopher Alexander whose talent created a masterpiece of profound beauty in Sebastopol. The home uses passive solar design and its thick walls are built of shot-crete. The house is designed to last for several hundred years. Recycled and sustainable materials were used as much as possible throughout the house. The wood floors in the living room are made of recycled mahogany from crates used by Sunkist to bring tuna to California at the turn of the 20th century, and the upstairs floors are made from old-growth redwood from chicken coops in Petaluma. Beautiful cabinets in the gourmet kitchen and the stairway are made from a sustainable form of eucalyptus. The redwood on the outside of the office wing came from an old farmhouse built in the 1880’s. Most of the other floors are acid etched concrete with radiant heat.
This project is a good example of the ideas that Christopher Alexander wrote about in his books on architecture. Christopher Alexander studied at Berkeley in the 60’s and wanted to find a different way of “procuring” architecture. He found a great lack of feeling in the designs at the time. He wrote several books, including a four volume opus, “The Nature of Order”. He had a theory that there is an objective source of beauty. That source is the interconnectedness of everything. He strived to create that feeling of unfolding life. The motivation behind the design of this house was to create something of deep feeling that enlivens people. There is certain geometry that does that and it comes from nature and certain traditional cultures.
In addition to Christopher, the project team included architect Demetrius Gonzalez who worked with Christopher and was the project manager and David Leff of Leff Construction who was the general contractor on the project. Demetrius connected with Christopher fairly early and worked with him in London and then back in Berkeley and on this project.
Beauty, functionality and good stewardship of the land are all part of philosophy behind the house and the gardens. The house sits high upon an east facing ridge and has sweeping views of vineyards and redwood forests that lead the eye across the Sonoma Plain to the Mayacamas and Sonoma Mountains toward Napa. It is a seven acre garden sanctuary which uses a sustainable and ecological approach, called permaculture, to grow heirloom fruit, berries and lavender.
About 45 AIARE members and friends took advantage of this limited opportunity to view this wonderful estate. The Custom Residential Architects Network (CRAN) continues to showcase the best of the best in custom residential design in Sonoma County. Photos of the house are on the AIA Redwood Empire group page on Facebook and also on Sotheby’s website.