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House For Two Artists

Marcy Wong Donn Logan Architects

Shared By

Carl Servais


  • Structural Engineer: Gregory P. Luth Associates
  • Mark Citret Photography
  • Ross Craig
  • General Contractor: Sawyer Construction

Project Status


Year Completed

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Project Description

Due to the clients’ intense careers and travel schedules, the house was conceived as the artists’ haven for contemplation, creation and renewal. The tree-covered hills, along with sustainable design goals, inspired the building’s form, siting and materials. Wood harvested from the site for use in the structural system, finishes and casework used drove the architectural expression.

The house replaces a dilapidated shack on a wooded property with surrounding vistas of rolling hills with dense covers of various species of native California trees. The old shack was deconstructed to salvage its wood, including substantial redwood members. Even more significantly, wood was harvested from the 40-acre property with the intention of providing much of the Douglas Fir structure, framing, Redwood board-and-batten siding and ceilings, Oak flooring, and Chinquapin millwork. This use of trees from the land went beyond the romantic notion of living off the land; it underscored the house’s aesthetic character and achieved numerous positive environmental objectives. The owners’ careful selection of trees to be harvested left the most handsome and healthy trees intact, enhanced the beauty and health of the woods, and thinned the forest enough to mitigate fire hazard - a severe concern in the region. The net result of the carbon-laden wood being stored in the fire-sprinklered house reduced the odds of fires that beyond their overall destruction, would add to air pollution.

The result is a 1,660 square foot, wood, glass and galvanized aluminum barn-like loft of elongated (18’ x 72’) proportions, located for optimal solar orientation and to maximize the amenities of the site. The long north side of the building has minimal windows both for providing privacy from the driveway approach to the house and enhancing the building envelope energy efficiency. This defined the architectural composition on the north elevation, highlighting the interior stair whose cantilevered mass contrasts with the wood siding like a silvery corrugated saddlebag. The south side, blessed with a spectacular view and south sun, is bordered by a continuous arcade that shades the expansive window walls in the summer but allows wintertime warmth and light to flood the interior. The main level consists of the living, dining, kitchen and study areas, plus a guest suite. The only upstairs room is the master bedroom which overlooks the tall (21’ peak) living space and adjoins a sleeping porch. Accentuating the extended geometry of the house is a long shallow storage element with blind wood doors which together with the main house flanks the entry gate.
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