The owners, former gallery owners and serious art collectors, wanted to build a small studio and an energy-efficient house in the country that would also function as their private gallery. The site is located in the hilly terrain of the Santa Ynez Valley in Southern California, near Santa Barbara.
Notched into a narrow bench carved into a deep hillside, the house was conceived as a device to connect to the landscape: the openings frame views of the sculptural native oaks through to distant Mount Figueroa and blur the distinction between indoor and outdoor rooms. Combined with site walls and trellis structures, the landscaping—composed of drought-tolerant natives—further defines the outdoor rooms and makes a gradual transition into the natural landscape.
The main volume is an east-west-oriented wedge that functions as a continuous dining/living/gallery space. Piercing this volume, is the kitchen wing and master bedroom wing which extend out to form protected courtyards to the north and south. The primary body is then sheltered and defined by the studio that stands free of the structure.
Steel grating shades outdoor rooms, and operable wood screens provide shelter from strong western winds. Exterior shading, combined with the thin building sections and generous openings, keeps the house cool in the summer. Collaboratively chosen by the architects and clients, the colors of the stucco wedge and wood outshoots, which are not shy, were all derived from the site geology and natural vegetation.