Railroad Revival

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November 7, 2012

It isn't often that your eight-year-old son helps you decide on an architect, but that is how homeowners Connie DeWitt and Kam Kasravi became well-acquainted with architect David Fenster of Modulus—their sons are good friends. DeWitt also credits her son, Kyler, with their new weekend getaway on an 11-acre parcel of redwood forest in the Santa Cruz Mountains.

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  The site is located near the old South Pacific Coast Railroad Line, a factor that led DeWitt to ultimately choose shipping containers. “In a way, they are the modern great-granddaughters of the trains that used to pass by here: metal boxes used for transportation,” muses DeWitt.
    The site is located near the old South Pacific Coast Railroad Line, a factor that led DeWitt to ultimately choose shipping containers. “In a way, they are the modern great-granddaughters of the trains that used to pass by here: metal boxes used for transportation,” muses DeWitt.
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  The metal grating floor on the second story allows light to filter through to the first level (living room shown). “You can sit or lay on the couch and see a 180-degree slice of the earth that you would just never see otherwise. It’s a different perspective of the world,” says DeWitt.
    The metal grating floor on the second story allows light to filter through to the first level (living room shown). “You can sit or lay on the couch and see a 180-degree slice of the earth that you would just never see otherwise. It’s a different perspective of the world,” says DeWitt.
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  A close-up shot of the glass “spine.” Fenster placed the units four feet apart from each other to allow light into the home. The grated bridge continues through the home to the outside path, integrating the structure with its landscape.
    A close-up shot of the glass “spine.” Fenster placed the units four feet apart from each other to allow light into the home. The grated bridge continues through the home to the outside path, integrating the structure with its landscape.
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  Fenster purchased the three shipping containers from and had them fabricated at ConGlobal in Oakland, California. “We didn’t realize that most people don’t actually use used shipping containers, which eliminates the recycling aspect of it. We went with high B-grade containers,” he says.
    Fenster purchased the three shipping containers from and had them fabricated at ConGlobal in Oakland, California. “We didn’t realize that most people don’t actually use used shipping containers, which eliminates the recycling aspect of it. We went with high B-grade containers,” he says.
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  The kitchen is only eight by twelve feet, but Fenster carefully oriented the cooking and food-prep areas diagonally to make it feel roomy and open. The French and sliding doors provide ample light throughout the day.  Courtesy of: SJMN
    The kitchen is only eight by twelve feet, but Fenster carefully oriented the cooking and food-prep areas diagonally to make it feel roomy and open. The French and sliding doors provide ample light throughout the day.

    Courtesy of: SJMN

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  “We relied on different-sized windows and a varied the placement of the windows. Rather than place a big glass wall, we used the windows to craft views of the property. If you want to see outside go outside, but inside, the framed views let you see everything differently,” explains Fenster.
    “We relied on different-sized windows and a varied the placement of the windows. Rather than place a big glass wall, we used the windows to craft views of the property. If you want to see outside go outside, but inside, the framed views let you see everything differently,” explains Fenster.
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  The interior metal grating motif is continued in these stairs made out of redwood from a tree on-site. A centrally located gas fireplace distributes heat evenly throughout the home as an energy-saving measure.
    The interior metal grating motif is continued in these stairs made out of redwood from a tree on-site. A centrally located gas fireplace distributes heat evenly throughout the home as an energy-saving measure.
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  Here's a drawing of the home. It ultimately came to $225 per square foot, which falls on the lower end of custom construction costs in Northern California.
    Here's a drawing of the home. It ultimately came to $225 per square foot, which falls on the lower end of custom construction costs in Northern California.
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  A diagram of the home outlines its sustainable aspects, including LED lighting and an Advantex septic system that has no environmental impact.
    A diagram of the home outlines its sustainable aspects, including LED lighting and an Advantex septic system that has no environmental impact.

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