Fire Country Lookout
This multi-generational family retreat on an oak-studded hilltop west of Healdsburg, CA provides a prototype for sustainable dwelling and resilient development in the “post-climate-change” West. A single 180’ long extrusion was carefully sited along the east-west axis, its prismatic form kinked at the center to maximize sunrise views to Mount St. Helena and sunset views to the west.
This simple form provides optimum orientation for passive ventilation and solar exposure, while shading the outdoor areas against the scorching summer heat. Hovering above the landscape on its concrete base, a wrapper of standing-seam zinc panels envelops the roof and walls, creating a protective outer shell shielding the inner volumes from sun and frequent wildfires.
A skeleton of prefabricated heavy timber glulam frames organize the plan into a series of spaces along a single-loaded circulation spine, inflected by a breezeway demarcating public and private zones. This structure sets the rhythm of the fenestration and module for exterior and interior materials, with apertures in the outer shell revealing the sumptuous interior, and vertical cedar screens shading outdoor living spaces.
A rugged material palette ties hardscape, pool, and pool house together into a cohesive intervention in the landscape. Scalloped Corten retaining walls stitch the terraces and driveway into the hillside, and a network of trails provides access to the natural beauty of the site while acting as part of the property’s defensible space strategy.
Rooftop solar hot water, photovoltaics, Tesla Powerwall batteries, and a backup generator complete the infrastructure for off-the-grid wine country living.