Elegantly Back to Nature
Let’s start the new year with a breath of fresh air — as expressed in this marvelous new house in the Santa Lucia Preserve near Carmel, California by San Franciso-based Feldman Architecture. I toured it last fall during the Monterey Design Conference. The setting is what I would call “California Primeval” — a magnificent oak knoll opening to a wide meadow sloping down to a forested canyon, with vistas of more meadows and trees across ridges in the
distance. The house is not large and divides into three separate pavilions: a one story guest suite, a two-story living-dining-cooking space with loft library
overlooking the dining room, and a one story owner’s retreat. Glass walls accordion away to connect each pavilion with outdoor living areas, blurring the
boundaries between structure and and site (previous three photos courtesy Feldman Architecture). Landscape architect Bernard Trainor reinforced this connection with plantings of native grasses that seamlessly weave the terraces into the meadow.
According to Jonathan Feldman, the clients imagined butterflies “landing delicately on the site,” which sparked both the idea for pavilions that would sit lightly on the land and butterfly roofs to capture rainwater runoff. Cisterns hold the water until needed in the garden. The expressive board-formed
concrete walls, timber rafters, and expansive glass panels turn the house into a kind of nature gallery, whether you are looking inward to a corner of the kitchen, as shown above, or outward to the view. And those Heath vases and bowls look great on floating shelves! It’s a signal triumph to have made the house fit such a remarkable site. I don’t usually identify butterflies with concrete but in this case lightness means a very deft hand at environmental design.
The house won a 2013 Design Award from the American Institute of Architects, Monterey Bay. Bravo one and all!