Wednesday, October 31, 2012
Architecture Wednesday: Santa Ynez Simplicity
Sometimes it's not the view of the house, but the views in the house, and the views from the house. Like this simple, really not so big house in Santa Ynez, California.
It was designed for a couple who wanted a small, energy-efficient home that engaged the landscape and embraced the rural setting. In addition to the basic requirements of a two bedroom house, they wanted a separate guest house/studio, outdoor rooms, pool and barbecue area.
I mean, it's California, no?
The house is notched into a steep hillside, becoming connected to the landscape; openings frame views, and blur the distinction between indoors and out. The main volume of the house, an east-west oriented wedge, functions as the dining/living space. The kitchen and master bedroom pierce this wedge and extend out to form protected courtyards on the north and south. The studio/guest house stands free of the main structure and defines and shelters the entry.
Steel grating shades outdoor rooms, and operable wood screens provide shelter from western wind. Exterior shading combined with the thin building sections and generous openings keep the house cool despite extreme summer temperatures along the Southern California coast.
Combined with site walls and trellis structures, the landscaping—composed of drought tolerant natives—further defines the outdoor rooms and makes a gradual transition into the natural landscape. It was agreed that the 360-degree views and the existing oak trees offered by the site took precedence; a part of the only tree felled on the property--to make room for the driveway--has become a mantel over the fireplace.
During the design process, the architects spent a great many hours on the property at different times of the day in order to create rooms with the perfect views. The location and the placement and selection of windows became a critical element in the completed design.
It was agreed how important it was to create a structure that blended with the site’s ridgeline, in its profile, use of materials and final color choices; changing light on the surrounding landscape and small rocks found on site were examined for color combinations.
The influence of one of the client’s background, having grown up on a farm in England, coupled with the rural history of Santa Ynez, was integrated into the design, suggesting a cluster of farm buildings accumulated over time.
The result is not only a house, but also a work of art. The buildings flow, settling into the site and functioning perfectly. Acting as a retreat, a second home and a family gathering place, the completed project provides a unique environment, surpassing our most ambitious expectations.