Big Sur, California

California’s Big Sur coastline is defined by the dramatic convergence of the Pacific Ocean with the Santa Lucia Mountains. The region is shaped by the dynamic forces of tectonic action, heavy winter storms, sunlight, atmospheric salinity, and the constant motion of oceanic swells. Every element that inhabits the coast – from the rocky outcrops to the coastal chaparral and Monterey Cypress – are shaped by their remarkable adaptations to these environmental forces. With a decided goal of attuning the house to this unique landscape, the architecture is shaped as a series of adaptations to the environmental conditions that it mediates. The house makes way for the landscape, and in doing so unlocks the breathtaking experience of living on the coastline.

An unexpected discovery during early site explorations revealed a hidden ravine that had been filled with sediment and debris over time. The ravine presented a challenge and a unique opportunity. We embraced it and restored it as a seasonal stream which became the heart of the design. The house is configured as two pavilions which flank the ravine and are connected by a glass bridge – allowing the seasonal stream to continue uninterrupted. This approach prioritized restoration of the ecological function of the ravine while bringing this natural feature right into the central experience of the home.

The house is comprised of a series of slender roofs that appear to float above the massive stone walls which connect the building to the ground. The tapered stone walls are laid with thin, long courses of gray stone that echo the striated cliff faces which surround the house, making the building appear as an extension of the cliffs. The spaces of the house are arranged in a carefully orchestrated procession which guide us from the entry, across the ravine, into the living spaces and out onto the pool deck  – forming an immersive experience of winding through the Cypresses towards the edge of the continent. 






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