Wood in architecture
Willits || USA California
High Horse Ranch is a second residence for clients whose primary home is a renovated former industrial space in the Mission District of San Francisco, about three hours south of the project site. In contrast to their introverted and intensely private Mission loft, High Horse Ranch was designed to be outwardly focused and defined by the site and its views and natural landscape.
The design was developed around the visitor experience of view and landscape as one moves into, around, and through the house, and between the main house and its guest cabins. The starting point was the clients’ vision of their guests arriving at the property, leaving the car away from the house to the north, and walking the wooded path up to the sheltered entry area where they would be welcomed by their hosts, and taken inside. Only then would they be presented with the spectacular view, from the hilltop vantage point, framed by the structure of the house.
Building on this concept, the house is organized around a central service and circulation bar that serves as a thick wall that one crosses through to enter the house, and moves back and forth across and within while traversing between the living-dining-kitchen pavilion, oriented to the primary southern valley view; and the bedroom-study pavilion oriented to the northern canyon view. Full height glazed pivot doors allow the living spaces to be completely opened to the exterior. The clients are generous and enthusiastic hosts that use the open living-dining-kitchen space of the main house with its expansive views as the social center of the project, while the study provides a refuge for reading and concentration.
Two guest cabins act as satellites that extend the concept of the main house, one oriented to the valley and one to the canyon, each providing a distinct experience and perspective of the site. While dependent on the main house for meals and community, each cabin offers guests privacy and solitude with a bathroom, study desk, covered porch, and fire pit.
As avid home cooks, the clients wanted a kitchen that is central, open, and acts as a hub of the social program of the house. It also needed to be a place where they could comfortably work side-by-side. The kitchen is central to the main pavilion of the house and organized around two generous islands, each with a workstation, sink, and overhanging end to accommodate a pull-up stool during meal prep.
A pair of matching and deeply built-in seats in the study offer a place to curl up and read with views to the exterior and a glimpse into the adjacent top-lit gallery space.
The master bedroom is entirely glazed on two sides with oversized doors that open to the exterior, developed from the clients’ desire to sleep as closely to nature as possible. A skylight was added directly above the bed to allow stargazing before sleep.
Location: Willits, CA, USA
Gross Floor Area: 267 m2
Completion Date: 2016
Design Partner: James Timberlake
Principal-in-charge: Johann Mordhorst
Design Team: Andrew Cronin, Kate Czembor, Andrew Schlatter, Jon McCandlish, Shawn Protz
General Contractor: Moderna Homes, Buckeye Construction
Client and Owner: Clive McCarthy and Tricia Bell
Structural: CVM Engineers
MEPF: Engineering 350
Civil: Adobe Associates
Lighting: Sean O’Connor Lighting
Structural System: Riddle Laminators
Exterior Cladding: Henry Company, Niles Expanded Metals, Custom Copper Sheet Metal and Roofing
PVC Roofing: Sarnafil
Windows and Doors: Fleetwood
Glass: Guardian Sunguard SN68
Hardware: Assa Abloy, Halliday Baillie, Krownlab
Interior Finishes: Bartlett, Richlite,Penofin, Dupont Corian
Flooring: Vermont Structural Slate, North Cal
Lighting: USAI Lighting
Light Control: Lutron
Sanitary Ware: Proline, Kohler, Zurn, Hansgrohe, Dornbracht
Solar Thermal Collector: Solar Skies
Misting System: Aeromist
Sanitary Ware: Duravit
Photography: © Tim Griffith, courtesy of KieranTimberlake