Fertile Grounds

written by:
photos by:
February 26, 2010
Originally published in Prefab Today

Nestled in an apple grove in Sebastopol, California, the Orchard House is a rural idyll. And with the voracious design appetites of a family of gastronomically inclined clients, this concrete prefab construction is quite literally a moveable feast of a home.

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  • 
  The Hupert-Kinmont house lies low in a century-old apple orchard, far from neighboring houses. The spaciousness of the rural surroundings is echoed inside.
    The Hupert-Kinmont house lies low in a century-old apple orchard, far from neighboring houses. The spaciousness of the rural surroundings is echoed inside.
  • 
  The wide front door opens onto a wide central living space where the entire family—and a regular cast of visitors—spends much of their time.
    The wide front door opens onto a wide central living space where the entire family—and a regular cast of visitors—spends much of their time.
  • 
  The dining room table sits at one end of the main room, with an open view onto the rows of trees that extend out from two sides of the house. Natasha sets the table underneath a suspended fixture made by her mother, Naomi, out of a salvaged branch, crystal pieces, and strung bulbs.
    The dining room table sits at one end of the main room, with an open view onto the rows of trees that extend out from two sides of the house. Natasha sets the table underneath a suspended fixture made by her mother, Naomi, out of a salvaged branch, crystal pieces, and strung bulbs.
  • 
  A massive slab of cypress perched atop sawhorses provides storage for pots and utensils.
    A massive slab of cypress perched atop sawhorses provides storage for pots and utensils.
  • 
  The cooking area features two islands—one more permanent than the other. A concrete island contains various appliances. With the extra surface area, there’s plenty of room to roll out dough and a wide berth for Ian’s power chair.
    The cooking area features two islands—one more permanent than the other. A concrete island contains various appliances. With the extra surface area, there’s plenty of room to roll out dough and a wide berth for Ian’s power chair.
  • 
  The Andersons designed a system of four-by-four-foot concrete modules, created from a reusable formwork of 2-by-12-foot boards that could be easily moved around the site.
    The Andersons designed a system of four-by-four-foot concrete modules, created from a reusable formwork of 2-by-12-foot boards that could be easily moved around the site.
  • 
  By using the units repeatedly, the architects saved on cost and materials as well as scaling the work to be manageable with one concrete truck and a two-person crew. The resulting facades are textured from the rough wooden planks.
    By using the units repeatedly, the architects saved on cost and materials as well as scaling the work to be manageable with one concrete truck and a two-person crew. The resulting facades are textured from the rough wooden planks.
  • 
  Ben’s office contains an impressive reference library for his inventory of antiquarian books.
    Ben’s office contains an impressive reference library for his inventory of antiquarian books.
  • 
  An outdoor shower is made from one complete concrete module—a visual demonstration of how the entire house was built.
    An outdoor shower is made from one complete concrete module—a visual demonstration of how the entire house was built.
  • 
  In the master bedroom, more shelves were installed to accommodate the book collection.
    In the master bedroom, more shelves were installed to accommodate the book collection.
  • 
  The long hallway leading to the bedrooms gets spectacular afternoon sun, lighting up the family’s many works of art.
    The long hallway leading to the bedrooms gets spectacular afternoon sun, lighting up the family’s many works of art.
  • 
  In the living room fireplace, a bird turns on the antique French spit.
    In the living room fireplace, a bird turns on the antique French spit.
  • 
  The outdoor hearth is primed for cooking in the summer.
    The outdoor hearth is primed for cooking in the summer.
  • 
  The open office space is partially secluded thanks to the hanging Algues by Ronan & Erwan Bouroullec for Vitra.
    The open office space is partially secluded thanks to the hanging Algues by Ronan & Erwan Bouroullec for Vitra.
  • 
  Throughout the house all storage areas are open, leaving crockery, dishware, food, books, and clothes in plain view.
    Throughout the house all storage areas are open, leaving crockery, dishware, food, books, and clothes in plain view.
  • 
  Ben enjoys spending time outdoors on warm days cooking meals for his family.
    Ben enjoys spending time outdoors on warm days cooking meals for his family.
  • 
  The oversize hearth (of which there is an outdoor double) was part of the original design specifications. “Ben said he wanted a fireplace big enough to cook a wild boar,” says Mark Anderson of Anderson and Anderson.
    The oversize hearth (of which there is an outdoor double) was part of the original design specifications. “Ben said he wanted a fireplace big enough to cook a wild boar,” says Mark Anderson of Anderson and Anderson.
  • 
  Metal buckets of wooden spoons on the counter don’t amount to visual chaos; rather, they’re evidence of a hands-on existence.
    Metal buckets of wooden spoons on the counter don’t amount to visual chaos; rather, they’re evidence of a hands-on existence.
  • 
  The family needed space not just for cooking, which they do a lot of, but for massive kitchen projects like making wine from their homegrown grapes and oil from their olive trees.
    The family needed space not just for cooking, which they do a lot of, but for massive kitchen projects like making wine from their homegrown grapes and oil from their olive trees.
  • 
  "The Andersons did a very good job of creating spaces that are completely accessible to all our family and friends,” says Naomi. "This house is so well designed that its accessibility is sometimes overlooked.”
    "The Andersons did a very good job of creating spaces that are completely accessible to all our family and friends,” says Naomi. "This house is so well designed that its accessibility is sometimes overlooked.”
  • 
  Many of the culinary craft projects are an extension of Ben’s work as an artist and dealer of antiquarian books about food and wine.
    Many of the culinary craft projects are an extension of Ben’s work as an artist and dealer of antiquarian books about food and wine.
  • 
  The material of choice for the loft-cum-farmhouse was concrete, for which the Andersons devised a prefab strategy. A series of identical C-shaped modules from the same formwork compose the structural system, which sits on a continuous slab foundation.
    The material of choice for the loft-cum-farmhouse was concrete, for which the Andersons devised a prefab strategy. A series of identical C-shaped modules from the same formwork compose the structural system, which sits on a continuous slab foundation.
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