This See-Through California Home Magically Hangs Above a Creek Bed

Fougeron Architecture reconfigured the residence with floor-to-ceiling glass that enhances views of the stream and a backyard waterfall.

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Project Details:

Location: California

Architect: Fougeron Architecture / @fougeronarch

Year: 2022

Footprint: 2,505 square feet

General Contractor: Barry Builders

Structural Engineer: Endres Studio

Civil Engineer: Adobe Associates

Landscape Design: Ground Studio / @groundstudiolandscape

Photographer: Joe Fletcher / @joefletcherphoto

From the Architect: "Suspended between two beautiful California hills, this remodel spans a creek and boasts a waterfall in the backyard.

"A man-made object in nature may exist in harmony or disparity. The goal was to reconnect this structure with the environment while best utilizing the exceptional site for the clients.

"In this part of California, it is no longer legal for homes to be suspended over a creek. Therefore, there were strict guidelines on how to use the existing structure as the basis for design. Most importantly, the new home had to follow the exact outline of the existing house and decks.

"The goal with this unique site was to enhance the relationship of the structure to the nearby bodies of water and the rock face. Rather than bearing down and disturbing the creek below, the new structural system has been anchored to the bedrock within the flanks of the hill, suspending the home completely over the water. By opening sight lines and using transparent materials, floor-to-ceiling windows, see-through floors, and open-concept outdoor spaces such as floating staircases, the natural water features are visible from the front and back of the house.

"The remodel retains 50 percent of the existing wood structure, inserting a steel frame beneath the original floors and anchoring the home to the rocky hillsides—thus allowing us to remove supporting columns from within the creek bed. Rather than hide this support system, it is exposed on all the floors.

"The first two floors’ structure and orientation follow the existing house, but the new third floor rotates 90 degrees to better relate to the site. This shift breaks up the mass of the structure, giving some levity and height, while differentiating itself from the lower floors. Atop a steel frame, the roof—like the home itself—hovers, creating a dynamic space with lots of natural light.

"The Suspension House at once balances the role of architecture—especially modernism—in nature with the role of the client to home."

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