Weathering steel, concrete and glass were used to form this asymmetrical dwelling by Mork-Ulnes Architects that is nudged into a hillside overlooking a verdant, rolling valley in northern California’s Sonoma County. The studio was charged with creating a home that not only met the clients’ needs, but also responded to the threat of wildfire.
The team designed the two-storey Triple Barn house to slot into the sloped site, which offers sweeping views of an undulating valley blanketed with trees and vineyards. The house is topped with three gabled roofs that delineate distinct zones within the dwelling. Concrete was used for the lower portion of the building, while weathering steel wraps the upper level.
The initial challenge of the project, which really shaped the form of the building, was how to embrace the very steep slope and views of the site while creating access for fire trucks in this wildfire-prone area. As former residents of San Francisco and New York City, the couple desired a full-time, countryside residence that would offer a tranquil atmosphere and a strong connection to nature. They also needed plenty of space to host cooking classes and to entertain family and friends.
The upper level, which houses the main living functions, is roughly rectangular in plan with a slight curve. It sits atop a smaller lower level, which encompasses an office, storage and a laundry room, along with a carport that occupies a sheltered void. Adjacent to the home is a wide driveway that can accommodate fire trucks.
The dark exterior of the house contrasts with the interior, which is kept light and airy. Douglas fir, natural stone and white walls are among the finishes. Vintage light fixtures are mixed with contemporary decor in “sun-bleached” hues. The interior was meant to have simple and bright materials to give the house a casual atmosphere. All walls were kept white to keep the space bright and to allow for large windows to captivate with their views.