Lafayette Sea Ranch Contemporary

Location

Lafayette, CA

Date

1991-92

Description

One of the more interesting elements of mid-century design in Northern California was the influence of the design for a small coastal community called Sea Ranch. A team of influential architectural leaders came together as a team to contribute many elements of this new, regionally inspired rustic style. Based on the philosophy of Charles Moore and his team of Moore, Lyndon, Turnbull and Whitaker (MLTW), the classic north coast barns were taken as a starting point for an entirely new style of home. Shed roofs, natural materials, little or no overhangs or trim, these “barns” were created to house humans not animals, and offered “layers” of enclosure in the spaces with glass-enclosed window-seat “pods” at the outermost layer, the expansive volumes of the barn itself as the mid-layer, and interior “furniture” pieces that housed bathrooms, closet and kitchens. This project begins with a Charles Moore Sea Ranch Barn.

Knowing the influence of this inspired artist, we set out to honor his style and philosophy by researching his residential designs in later years. We found that he added the concept of central “streets” as organizing elements for his later barn-homes, so we suggested this solution to our client who was looking for a solution to the confusing entry orientation in his existing home. We built a model of our proposed remodel and taking advantage of a fortunate coincidence, were able to meet with Charles Moore and show him our design solution based on his own evolution in thinking about circulation. He loved our ideas and gave us full support to remodel his design in this way. TO our sadness, he died a few months after we met with him.

Our design solution was to reorganize the front of the house so that a dramatic axial skylighted “street” would pass from entry/driveway all the way through to the back and lead circulation cleanly from entry to activity areas. The skylight became the visual focus of each surrounding space and redefined the feeling for the entire home. New Master Bedroom, Kitchen and Dining “pods” were redesigned and created off the street and the whole project found a resonance with clients, family and friends.

This project was undertaken while David was Senior Design Associate at Polsky Architects in Larkspur.

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