For clients who are deeply invested in horses, we celebrated the history of horse ranching that has grown up among the pristine native woodland and grassland habitats of California’s Portola Valley. As architects, we felt a dual responsibility: to an architectural expression that perpetuates this ranching culture, and to a thoughtful cohabitation of the land with all its native flora and fauna.
We traced the game paths that traversed the site from east to west, thinking about the site from an ecological standpoint as well as a lot-line one. We tracked those daily routes and connected them to the bigger landscape of the canyon, and the site’s merging with the Portola valley itself. We situated the residential structures on one horizontal contour, threading a series of what felt like cantilevered pavilions through four mature oak species, and creating a space for the stables and pasture to inhabit the grassland meadow visible from the interior promontories.