This small project on the valley floor in the heart of the Napa Valley is designed as a place of rest and renewal. The plan for this collection of simple structures set quietly within the vineyard landscape was inspired by the interconnectedness of traditional stone cairns. Cairns — carefully placed stacked rocks – have carried spiritual meaning across cultures for centuries. The act of balancing stones carries with it a practice of patience and a physical effort of creating balance, and is considered by many to be restorative.
The seemingly random placement of structures in plan view is loosely based upon this concept of stacking and balance. The structures are connected by a series of pathways and covered terraces, similar to the way a cairn’s stacked stones support and balance one another. The five small structures house a massage area, steam room, sauna, changing area and caretaker’s suite.
Two plunge pools at the center of the plan, shaded by an expansive trellis, act as a central organizing element. Massage tables align with a relaxation terrace along one axis, and an outdoor shower aligns with an expansive fountain on the other. The straightforward building forms are sheathed in vertical Cedar siding inspired by the color of mud collected from a nearby stream bed, complemented by the fencing’s vertical slats and walls of vertically-oriented board-formed concrete. The surrounding walls, set at a height of 5 feet, are tall enough to provide privacy, yet low enough to allow occupants to feel connected to their surroundings on the valley floor. Set within a restrained landscape of grasses, decomposed granite and water, the overall effect of this indoor/outdoor space is calm, soothing and restorative – not unlike the stone cairns that provided the initial inspiration for the design.