The design of this new 1,900 square foot home adjacent to a working vineyard in Sonoma, CA begins with a simple, one-story rectangular “box” floor plan, not unlike any number of recent prototypes for low cost, sustainable single-family homes. Yet while these new designs have been successful in many regards, they are typically less flexible in their ability to respond with nuance to their sites and particular environmental conditions. This project embraces the notion of an economy of means, but argues that within this economy, there is still great potential to customize the relationship of a home to its site. In fact, it is this ability that is one of the prime determinates of sustainable choices for building orientation, thermal heat gain and loss, and passive cooling strategies to name a few.
Here, the shape of the house begins to physically morph with the push and pull of the surrounding environment. The simple box folds in two to embrace the open 1-acre site. Walls skew under the rectangular roof to focus on near and distant views. This then creates the tapering roof overhangs that strategically protect the private spaces from the harshest of the summer sun. In the end, the design retains the benefits of a simple plan with streamlined construction, and the economical and sustainable use of materials. Yet with just a few subtle shifts in the plan, we create a home engaged with its surroundings and far more able to take advantage of the best its site has to offer -- qualities often lacking in the simple box.