Marin County Residence
- Dirk Denison Architects
- 1-5 Stories
Accessibility, program, climate: all were important factors for a family of four who required a single story home and guesthouse on a one-and-a-half-acre site in Northern California. A stand of mature redwoods sits on one side of the property and a mountain range is visible to the southwest, meaning the site does not have a primary external view. The architect’s response to these conditions was to capitalize on the potential for a internalized landscape while exploring the dichotomy between the simple and the complex.
These landscape takes the form of individual buildings that have been interwoven with a series of courtyards and gardens. Thus, each programmatic function is contained within an independent entity, which then responds proportionally to its specific program. This enables every space to form a distinct relationship with its own exterior space. Using a simple palette of redwood, olive and Japanese maple trees, these outdoor roos range from
minimal to lush.
In plan, the house is based upon an irregular grid: in one direction a Base 2 system difines the pattern, whereas a Base 4 system is used in the opposite direction. This complex pattern subsequently informs all elements of the composition, including floors, walls, ceilings and objects.
The grid also enables the architect to explore how natural light enters the structure. The ceilings have been fractured and folded, revealing skylights above the ceiling plan and creating opportunity to explore the interplay between light and architecture. The limestone fireplace, which itself has been folded along the pattern, is illuminated by an adjacent skylight at the ceiling plane. Three circulation spines, made of glass and steel to delineate their distinction function, knit these spaces together and provide uninterrupted views through different sections of the house. These spatial volumes are then bound together by an enclosing perimeter wall, which creates a single form out of a village of buildings and landscapes. The irregular pattern of opening is this simple wall hints at the home’s underlying geometry and expresses the various function contained within. Simultaneously, the perimeter wall’s materials (cedar shingles) and rectilinear form help maintain a dialogue