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Walker Warner Architects: Mountain Wood, Woodside, California, an agrarian retreat

Project name:
Mountain Wood
Architecture firm:
Walker Warner Architects
Woodside, California, USA
Matthew Millman
Principal architect:
Greg Warner
Design team:
Senior Project Manager: David Shutt. Architectural Staff: Michael Boes, Klara Kevane, Basak Cakici, Laurie Matthews, Sandrine Carmantrand
Interior design:
Shawback Design Associates
Built area:
5100 ft²
Site area:
Design year:
Completion year:
Civil engineer:
Structural engineer:
Environmental & MEP:
Lutsko Associates
Tools used:
Chesler Construction
Brick, concrete, glass, wood, stone
Residential › House

Walker Warner Architects: The organizing concept for this project began as an exploration of separate buildings arranged to create a variety of complementary indoor and outdoor living experiences. Given the rural context of the town of Woodside, regional agrarian compounds and iconic forms were referenced for inspiration, as well as functionality. The home’s form is a compilation of three primary buildings—the main house, an office, and a barn—arranged around a central courtyard anchored by a water feature to create a variety of complementary indoor-outdoor spaces and diverse living opportunities. “It’s a contemporary interpretation of rural and traditional dwellings,” says principal architect Greg Warner.

A fourth structure—the pool house—is a series of three pavilions aligned on the same axis using similar materials as an inventive counterpart to the main buildings. All buildings share a common language of strong asymmetrical lines with a shared material palette of stone, Western red cedar, glass, and steel, together under a zinc roof. The use of stone evokes rusticity; rooting portions of the structures to past homesteads, while the random patterned cedar planking and zinc roofing, recall the rural vernacular of the California hay barn. By inserting exposed steel and large expanses of glass, the home is given a contrasting, contemporary feel. The barn, positioned at the front of the property, serves as a symbolic entry, reinforcing the rural character of the surrounding context.

An open passageway leading through the barn dramatically frames the entry facade of the main residence beyond. Upon entering the courtyard, loosely formed by three structures, the balance of space and material enliven the project as a whole. The primary residence boasts two main living spaces—adjacent living-dining areas and a kitchen abutting a family room. A master suite, three bedrooms and a study make up the second floor. For the interiors, big, heavy furniture took a backseat to more transparent items so as not to take away from the architecture and exteriors. Yet they were careful to keep them comfortable to allow for the full experience of both the site and the company within it.

By Liliana Alvarez

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