The Lookout House celebrates site’s volcanic history

August 12, 2020 by  
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When  Faulkner Architects  was asked to design a house on a spectacular site in Truckee, California, the Placer County-based design practice allowed the beautiful landscape to dictate the design. The contemporary home, aptly named Lookout House for its views, emphasizes indoor/outdoor living with its full-height glazing and natural material palette. The home design also focuses on sustainability and energy efficiency, as seen in its mass-heavy concrete walls, radiant heated stone floors, R80 insulated roof and high-efficiency mechanical and lighting equipment.  Located at the base of a 3-million-year-old  volcano , the Lookout House is set on a north-facing 20-degree slope perched 6,300 feet above sea level, on a clearing surrounded by second-growth Jeffrey Pine and White Fir trees. In addition to contributing to the forest’s growth, the region’s volcanic history further defines the land with volcanic sediment and boulders as large as 15 feet in diameter.  To center views of the landscape, the architects partially inserted the building into the slope — a narrow slot in the home’s massing mirrors a cleared ski access near the site — and wrapped the home with insulated 20-inch  concrete  walls made from local sand and aggregate. Full-height openings and glazed sliding doors that open up the house to prevailing southwesterly winds punctuate the thick fire-resistant and low-maintenance steel-and-concrete facade. The minimalist palette continues inside, with parts of the entry and central staircase bathed in warm light from red-orange glass symbolic of cooling magma. Related: Weathering steel wraps around a solar-powered California home “Produced by layer upon layer of sketches and study that first seek to discover the existing attributes and characteristics of the place, this architecture does not reflect a singular concept or idea,” the architects explained. “The built place, including its appearance, is the product of the making of a series of experiences that together set the stage for life to unfold. The process is about an approach to problem-solving on a difficult but epic  alpine  site. The completed place envelopes the continuous space of the slope up to the south sun and mountain top that has existed for millions of years.” + Faulkner Architects Images via Joe Fletcher

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The Lookout House celebrates site’s volcanic history

A midcentury barn is thoughtfully reclaimed for a family retreat in California

January 2, 2020 by  
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In California wine country, north of San Francisco, Faulkner Architects repurposed a 1950s tack barn as part of a Glen Ellen retreat for a family of four. In addition to salvaging original construction materials and retaining the shape and atmosphere of the agricultural building, the architects minimized the accessory dwelling’s energy footprint with the optimization of cross ventilation as well as with the installation of a new radiant concrete slab for heating, which is complemented with a 10,000 BTU propane-fired boiler. Inspired by Glen Ellen’s strong agricultural roots and beautiful rural views, the clients sought a weekend retreat from the city that would pay homage to the landscape’s history. The family’s multi-acre property includes a main residence, a lawn, a pool, a car shed and the repurposed barn that sits close to the main road. The original tack barn had comprised a single interior tool and workspace with a crushed gravel floor in addition to an upper-level sleeping attic and a lean-to shed roof for horses. Related: Weathering steel wraps around a solar-powered California home In repurposing the barn into a habitable space, the architects retained the original wood frame structure and removed the attic to maximize usable interior space while staying within the 850-square-foot permitted size for accessory dwellings. The minimalist interior includes an open-plan kitchen, living room and dining area that opens up to a new terrace on the west side. Meanwhile, the existing stable was turned into an unconditioned porch to house four beds, bump up the usable area to 1,530 square feet and take advantage of prevailing southwest winds . Along with the preserved Douglas fir elements of the barn, an insulated, locally reclaimed redwood rain screen was added to the exterior. “The reuse of an old barn to house people on weekend getaways from urban life presents a conflict in identity for the built form,” the architects noted. “Uses change over time; the intention here was to maintain and use the embodied energy of the familiar barn in the neighborhood while allowing the signs of human inhabitation to be subtle, but evident.” + Faulkner Architects Photography by Joe Fletcher Photography via Faulkner Architects

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A midcentury barn is thoughtfully reclaimed for a family retreat in California

Weathering steel wraps around a solar-powered California home

October 31, 2017 by  
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When Faulkner Architects was tasked with building a family home just outside San Francisco, the clients emphasized the importance of the environment. The Truckee-based architecture firm set about creating a striking site-specific dwelling with a small energy footprint. The result is an AIA award-winning three-bedroom home, called Miner Road, that’s wrapped in sheets of Corten Steel—chosen for its low maintenance and the way it “refresh[es] every time it rains, just like the landscape,” says architect Greg Faulkner. Located in Orinda on a sloped eight-acre site with large oak trees, Miner Road takes over the footprint of a former home that once stood on the property. The mature oak trees informed the orientation of the home and provide shade, while glass walls frame the trees’ large gnarled branches. Large cutouts in the weathering steel facade let in ample natural light and views of the landscape. Related: Green-roofed home with rusting walls appears to grow out of a Finnish forest “This bridging between interior and exterior is major feature of the main living space, and an entire wall is devoted to connecting the two visually,” wrote Faulkner Architects. In contrast to the weathering steel facade, the interior is bright and modern, and focuses on a natural materials palette , from the abundant use of white oak to white gypsum walls and basalt floor tiles. The home’s mechanical and electrical systems are designed at a 44.9% improvement over code and include a rainwater harvesting system and solar panels. + Faulkner Architects Via Dezeen

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Weathering steel wraps around a solar-powered California home

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