This large woodland site lies in the foothills of the Santa Cruz Mountains, only ten miles east of San Jose yet far removed from the bustle of Silicon Valley. The clients for this house were a technology company executive and his wife. They envisioned a house sympathetic to the unique site and elegant in execution.
The property is shaded by mature heritage oaks, their dense canopies almost closing over the southern portion of the site. Defining the eastern edge of the property is a meandering seasonal creek. The creek is nearly dry in the heat of summer but swells to a rambunctious flow with the arrival of the winter rains. The riparian habitat along the creek is one of the strongest assets of the site. Dense growths of miner’s lettuce, native juncus, and bay trees crowd the water’s edge. The home is a response to the goals of preserving and enhancing the presence of the existing oak woodland and seasonal creek.
The house massing is a set of smaller structures interconnected by glassed-in walks and vaulted roof structures that wind through the oak canopy, responding in plan to the requirements of the protected driplines. Courtyards and outdoor spaces unite the house and landscape. The pool, pool house, and adjoining patio all step down a gentle slope to meet the large grass playfield to the north. The field is bordered by a cleaved granite walk that mimics the shape of the creek edge, effectively transposing the form of the creek itself onto the higher land. At the southern end of this path is a sculpture patio. The nine-foot-tall serpentine sculpture we designed is derived from the actual shape of the creek as it traverses the property.
The clients were deeply engaged in the design process and allowed us to raise the bar on finishes, landscaping, and details for this house. We designed a drop soffit of sheet bronze for the sections of the house with vaulted ceilings. The bronze reflects the adjacent exterior gardens during the day and adds a warm glow at night. We designed a unique, freestanding staircase with glass treads that becomes the centerpiece of the home’s circulation.
White cement panel siding was selected to brighten the deep shade under the oak canopy. Zinc standing-seam roofing and a custom wood window system fill out the palette of materials on the exterior. Natural stone, concrete, plaster, bronze, and dark hardwoods combine in a rich palette of color and texture in the home’s interior. A high level of design went into almost every interior detail and required the skills of many of the Bay Area’s finest craftspeople to execute successfully.