Carmel by the Sea, California
- Dirk Denison Architects
- 1-5 Stories
The house sits on a dense site facing Carmel Bay and the Pacific Ocean. The clients were keen to be fully cognizant of this amazing setting in all areas of the home. As such the house was conceived as a central room comprised of the courtyard, living room, and bedroom, bordered by niche spaces for the kitchen, breakfast nook, office and master bath. Fully folding doors/walls adjacent to the courtyard from the living room and bedroom literally open the full space up, and the rhythmic edge of vertical screen elements (solid mahogany and steel) create a loose border that stretches and compresses along its lengths.
Viewed at an angle, the screen reads opaque, but viewed closely or straight through, the screen is visibly porous allowing both light and air to travel through and across the central space. All other rooms on the main floor abut this border screen, creating a reference of place throughout the house, and providing a dynamic reading of visual connections as one moves through the space.
This central heart of the house is protected from strong seawater winds of the ocean by a glass roof, designed to allow for clear views upward and to maintain a warm center space. The steel columns that anchor the steel cable and strut trusses are integrated into the vertical wood screen – matching the changing rhythm and yet independently identified by a deep charcoal color. When a sweeping breeze is needed, the large sliding windows between the office and the courtyard are easily opened to allow full cross-ventilation. The house lives and breathes through the courtyard, and our clients live fully in this “large” room, even soaking in the Japanese Ofuro installed beneath the glass roof to watch the evening sky.
The second floor is accessed by an exterior cantilever stair, structurally and materially integrated into the vertical screen system. Atop the house is a small second floor enclosure between two porches with dramatic views. This space is primarily used as a meditation room and the large scooped skylight draws attention towards the changing blue of the sky and movement of the stars. Hidden below the inset Tatami floor is a guest mattress, ready to be revealed for guests to sleep among the cypress treetops, and supported by a compartmentalized bath set.
The residence maximizes the openness and function of a limited square footage, taking advantage of a favorable climate to allow outdoor spaces to become integral to the experience and use of the house. Emphasizing organization and design quality over quantity of enclosed space allowed clients to reduce the consumption of resources in the home’s construction and continues to make efficient use of energy in its occupation.