This small house situated towards the top of an olive orchard in Sonoma California. The 850 sqf house was designed by Cooper Joseph Studio for a couple of scientists. The siting takes advantage of the prevailing breezes and shade, while utilizing an existing open area so that no trees were removed. The goal was to create an energy efficient, compact dwelling where the clients could sit in shady areas, entertain, and enjoy views across the local agricultural lands.
The structure is anchored to the site’s steep hillside with a series of retaining walls and cascading exterior decks, each linked to an interior space. The images of the models show iterations of the cascading terrace strategy with a series of studies of the hillside in relation to interior and exterior fluidity at every level. The most ambitious concept was simultaneously the least intrusive to the natural topography: circulation always directs the user to the view, while the fenestration favors soft northern light. The house balances soft textures and grey tones with bold dramatic forms and select moments of color. Nestled into a field of (recently planted) lavender, the Small House has an all-seasons tempering microclimate. In addition to the lavender on the south and west, native grasses and varieties of rosemary maintain this native, reductive palette both inside and out. The lavender hums with bees, as this is a primary food source for their hives.
The house is organized on three levels that descend with the hillside. The entry level contains a full hallway bath as well as a bedroom with a bathroom and balcony. The mezzanine contains the kitchen and an eating counter, with a direct connection to a dining deck at the same level. On the lower level is the living room at grade with an adjacent deck. Floors, steps, and wall tile are a soft grey limestone. The woodwork is oak, stained grey with inserts of clear acrylic resin. The resin catches sunlight as it moves across the cabinetry face. The metal is painted steel and the countertops a grey eco-composite.
The exterior is predominantly light-grey zinc expressed in horizontal panels with 3/8” joints running horizontally and overlapping joints in the vertical direction. There are some minimal areas of redwood, stained grey as a detail on the south and east facades. The window system is custom, with steel mullions painted grey to match the zinc. Slatted, redwood sunscreens for the bedroom and entry deck provide texture, privacy, and shading. Horizontal skylights over the stair bring daylight to the interior while mitigating heat gain with a ceramic frit.
Furnishings are mostly custom built-in pieces as the room dimensions are small, and space must be used in a highly efficient manner. A more luxurious, large shower with 10-foot high glass overlooking the hillside, celebrates the view, and brings the outside indoors as a part of the residents’ functional lives. The house is at once grand and intimate. . There are openings between levels so that one is able to converse easily and experience the view from a series of places within the house, from a secret window seat with a sliver window to the north to the large expansive view from the living room. Details like hidden closets and storage recesses are meant to delight the user with the confluence of efficiency and aesthetics.
Architects: Cooper Joseph Studio
Location : Sonoma, California, USA
Photos : Cooper Joseph Studio