When architect John Lum was tasked with creating a house for a family of four in Silicon Valley’s Menlo Park, he knew it wouldn't be a standard, suburban space.
"The clients wanted a family-style house for themselves and their two daughters, but could not find anything they liked, so decided to tear down and build," he explains. "They didn't want a modern farmhouse, but something that was a more classic, modern design."
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Aesthetics aside, Lum was asked to create a space that could cater to his clients' and their two teenagers' growing needs.
"We wanted a house that facilitated spending time together and allowed us to be in the same space, even if we’re not all doing the same thing," say the homeowners, who asked to remain anonymous. "Our teenagers want to be independent, so we tried to combine independence and togetherness."
The final product—four wood-clad pavilions, connected by glass walkways, that surround a central courtyard—deftly marries form and function. While the 6,922-square-foot, two-story space is divvied up into sections for eating, sleeping, and living, Courtyard House is designed to evolve as the family's needs do.
"Our vegan daughter could be making avocado toast while the carnivore is heating up leftover chili, and we're sitting at the island talking with them," the clients say.
Rounding out the house are a raised swimming pool, wine cellar, two private offices, as well as four bedrooms and eight bathrooms.
But thought-provoking pavilions are only one piece of the property puzzle. Inspired by Ludwig Mies van der Rohe and Bay Area regionalism, Lum used the property’s landscape to create a home that would receive Mother Nature's seal of approval.
"The area’s year-round mild climate allowed us to create the quintessential California indoor/outdoor lifestyle in which we were able to usher in fresh air and daylight throughout," he explains.
Not only do all pavilions have direct access to the outdoors, but Lum also studied the property's daylight patterns to ensure the space is as sun-drenched as can be. Additionally, he installed radiant heating and a whole-house fan to mimic a cool, California breeze.
The clients love how the green, untamed landscape softens the impact of the minimalist structure, making the house feel like it's one with nature.
Lum agrees: "It's wonderful that when you’re in the house, you feel like you’re living in a garden."
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Interior Design: Stephanie Zaharias Design
Contractor: Art of Construction
Photographer: Paul Dyer Photography
Landscape Architect: Garden Route
Lighting: Revolver Design
Structural Engineer: Hohbach-Lewin, Inc.
Civil Engineering: MacLeod & Associates
Soils Engineer: Romig Engineers
Energy Consulting: Morton Green Building Services