Black Bird

Project Description

To address short and long-term goals, we designed a courtyard house, divided into two parts, connected by the kitchen and enclosing a kitchen garden and orchard. The primary wing of the house has one bedroom on the main floor, a home office / bedroom on the second floor, and a living / dining space into which the kitchen projects. The secondary wing alternatively serves as a “wellness center” (yoga room, sauna and hot tub), with accommodation for family.  Ultimately this wing will provide living quarters for caregivers.

Design Challenge

This house is designed for a couple anticipating retirement, facing health and potential mobility issues and seeking a lifestyle both more sustainable and more connected to nature. Serious gardeners and cooks, they decided to move from their house in San Francisco to a rural community in Northern California. Although they wanted a smaller home, they needed to be able to periodically accommodate members of their large extended family. In addition they foresaw the need to provide accommodations for live-in health care to allow for aging-in-place. Finally they dreamed of expanding their hobby of hosting "pop-up" culinary events in their house to include a garden setting.

Physical Context

The house addresses with particular emphasis health, well-being and design for change.  The goal was a house adaptable to multiple scenarios, ultimately allowing for aging-in-place while being as connected to nature as possible. Beyond the fundamentals of sustainability, the house emphasizes natural ventilation and carefully frames views of the site. Oversized openings not only take advantage of breezes, but they facilitate indoor-outdoor living; the couple's bed and the dining table roll easily between indoors and outdoors; a screened porch allows all-weather dining. Salvaged redwood used for cribwall "bumpouts', dining table, and special doors are reminders of the unique qualities of the redwood ecosystem they inhabit.