Project Description

The site:
‘Skyfall’ has a unique setting at the Sea Ranch in that this cul-de -sac property is bordered by golf links on two sides. In contrast, a dense stand of Cypress trees anchors the southern edge of the parcel. To the west, broad views sweep across the fairways to the Pacific and bluff houses, and north to the stands of trees along the Gualala River.
Architectural response:
Our design response utilizes simple barn-like forms to create a private courtyard nestled against the cypress stand, protected from the wind and screened from the golf course. The gateway into the compound aligns with a framed view across the fairway to the Pacific Ocean beyond. As the central focus of the house, the courtyard functions as an outdoor living room, anchored by a hot tub along the east fence and a fire pit to the west.
The study, living, kitchen, and dining functions are grouped under an open gable roof, with windows that wrap the length of the space, paralleling the sweep of the fairway. A window seat enclosure punctuates the fenestration, creating an intimate space within the larger room, with its own focused view. A guest room tower marks the northern boundary of the courtyard and includes rooftop solar collectors concealed by a parapet. For greater privacy and flexibility, the master bedroom suite is housed in a separate gable-roofed building at the southern edge of the courtyard, with quiet views into the dense tree canopy.
The owners:
SkyFall has been an incredible adventure for its owners, two San Francisco physicians with transcontinental backgrounds and with an ideal of modern northern California living perfectly realized by the Sea Ranch paradigm.
On a lark, they got on a real estate mailing list, and by chance the lot fell into their laps. Being history buffs, they had studied the origins of the Sea Ranch vernacular, and knew that they wanted to engage our architecture firm to help realize their goal: to build a house that was modest and utilitarian in size, respecting the Sea Ranch aesthetic of honoring the topography and its rustic origins, yet using an updated layout of an open interior and materials such as Equitone paneling and open-vista window panes as a glimpse into the future.
Now that they have moved in, the couple have confirmed what each had suspected – that Sea Ranch is magical in its ability to rejuvenate and replenish. They can go for morning swims and run along the myriad trails, completing the perfect Northern California lives that they envisioned.

Design Challenge

Energy: The project has several design features that improve it’s energy performance, including a roof mounted photovoltaic array, increased thermal mass, vertical shade fins for passive solar control, high R-value closed cell insulation and an electric vehicle charging station. Wellness: The house fulfills the client goal of creating a place to retreat from the stress of city life and rejuvenate in nature along the beautiful northern California coast.

Physical Context

The project explores fire-safe alternative cladding materials that would complement the Sea Ranch vernacular but require minimal maintenance and age well. We settled on a palette of ribbed cement panels as the primary cladding for both wall and roof surfaces, with cedar wood limited to areas closer at hand, such as window surrounds and the entry porch. This strategy references the early Sea Ranch use of wood planks for both walls and roofs, and the original barn structures that served as inspiration. The Equitone panels have a corrugated texture to soften the material and settle the forms into the landscape. A syncopated pattern of structural wood fins serves to baffle sunlight at the full-height windows and evoke exposed barn framing.