Project DescriptionCustom Home / Under 3,000 Square Feet / Award
The concept for this northern California house is all about response to its exceptional site. An Arcadian retreat nestled in a grove of remarkably picturesque oaks, it has been quite literally shaped by the three locally known land formations to be seen from its site: Eagle Rock, a mountain range, and a valley of vineyards.
To allow occupants to savor views of these three different land forms, the house's plan consists primarily of three arms extending in different directions, placed to avoid sacrificing a single existing tree; each arm is oriented to frame a distinct view. To permit construction without severing tree roots, the house is supported on steel stilts sleeved into concrete piers.
The spaces in the two arms occupied by sleeping areas can be closed off or integrated into the fluid interior by opening doors on either side of their compact closet–lavatory blocks. A fourth, smaller arm (more like a thumb) accommodates an entry and a bath. Juror Joel Sanders observed that "floating above the earth" is an effective site-specific strategy here. Josh Shelton was happy there were no platforms for outdoor living spread among the trees, observing that the one narrow deck off the main living area provides "a perfect stoop where you could sit." —John Morris Dixon, FAIA