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“Trestle” Residence

Firmness, Commodity and Delight

Aidlin Darling Design

“Trestle” Residence
By Michael Webb -

All of the Vitruvian virtues are manifest in the Trestle Residence, a recently completed project by the partnership of Joshua Aidlin and David Darling. Their accomplishment, here and elsewhere, is the product of careful preparation. In their 25 years of practice in San Francisco, they have camped out on the site of houses in wilderness areas of northern California before developing a design. This provides a pleasurable escape from office routine and allows them to study the topography and the play of light through the day, using this experience to optimize the placement of living and sleeping areas, and secure the best views. As a result, every room enjoys abundant natural light and cross-ventilation while offering protection from the extremes of summer heat and winter storms.

The residence was commissioned by a couple with two children for a rugged hillside that is part of a working farm in Napa County, just west of St. Helena. The owners enjoy growing their own fruit and vegetables and sought a home that would be a good fit for indoor-outdoor living in a setting of great natural beauty. They wanted a feeling of intimacy as well as a space in which to host fundraisers and other large gatherings. To minimize its impact on the land, the architects replaced a decrepit 1960s house, using much of its concrete pad and tennis court for the 613 sq. m residence and 84 sq. m guest cottage. That allowed them to preserve most of the trees on the site, including several majestic oaks.

The site straddles a ridge line and the primary bedroom is oriented to catch the morning sun. The living areas open through glass sliders to a south-facing courtyard that is partly shaded by trees with a steep hillside to the southwest. The mandate was to create a house that was sturdy and unpretentious, where children and dogs could run free, and the owners initially asked for a pitched roof to give the rooms more light and a greater volume. Though Aidlin and Darling are...

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