Placing form on wilderness is a radical act. The challenge facing Fougeron Architecture was to design a house in one of the most spectacular natural settings on the Pacific Coast of California, USA, that would both respect and transform the land.
This three-bedroom home, on Big Sur’s spectacular south coast, is anchored in the natural beauty and power of this California landscape. The architect’s design strategy embeds the building within the land, creating a structure inseparable from its context. The site offers dramatic views: a 250 ft drop to the Pacific Ocean both along the bluff and the western exposure. Yet it demands a form more complex than a giant picture window. The long, thin volume conforms and deforms to the natural contours of the land and the geometries of the bluff. In this way, the complex structural system applies and defies natural forms to accommodate the siting.
The house is cantilevered 12 ft back from the bluff, both to protect the cliff’s delicate ecosystem and to ensure the structure’s integrity and safety. The interior is a shelter, a refuge in contrast with the roughness and immense scale of the ocean and cliff. The house also shields the southern outdoor spaces from the powerful winds that blow from the northwest.
The main body of the house is composed of two rectangular boxes connected by an all-glass library/den. The main entry is located at the top of the upper volume with the living spaces unfolding from the most public to the most private. The living room kitchen and dining room are an open plan with subtle changes in levels and roof planes to differentiate the various functions.
The lower volume, a double-cantilevered master bedroom suite, acts as a promontory above the ocean, offering breath taking views from its floor-to-ceiling windows. The link between these two volumes is the glass library/den; it is the hearth of the house, a room that unites the house inside and out both with its geometry and its transparency. A one-story concrete wing perpendicular to the house includes a ground-floor bedroom, building services and a green roof; it is the boulder locking the house to the land.
The house has two main façades, the south one is clad in copper which wraps up the wall and over on the roof. Copper clad roof overhangs protect windows and the front door from the sun and the wind of the ocean. The façade to the north is made all glass; clear expanses of glass open the house to the view.
WAN House of the Year Award 2016 now open. For more information contact:
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