When Pam and Paul Costa moved from Milwaukee to Silicon Valley—via their employment at Apple—have commissioned Californian architect Craig Steely to design their dream home.
The house floats in the canopy of a dense oak grove in the foothills of the Santa Cruz Mountains just west of Silicon Valley. The conceptual idea came clearly and quickly—float a glass box in the leaves of the trees on two trunk-like columns, disrupting as few oaks as possible. The dense tree canopy offers the opportunity to build a complete glass-walled house, protected from the direct rays of the sun, yet filled with dappled sunlight.
A bridge of steel grating connects grade to the rooftop of native grasses. An observation deck sits in the grass field along with a garage/foyer of zinc panels and mirror glass. Sunlight funnels down through the foyer into the living level. The main living area is cantilevered into the tree canopy while bedrooms, bathrooms, service, and storage are located behind a long wall of cabinetry along the hillside. Distinct spaces (the living room, the office, and the kitchen) are delineated spatially in the open plan by sinking them into the concrete floor.
These spaces are further delineated by a material. In the sunken office, all surfaces— flooring, desk, cabinetry— are milled from a single slab of Chinese pistachio. The sunken living room is filled with 144 sq. ft. of B&B Italia’s “Tufty time” sofa components. In the kitchen/dining room, a 22 ft long counter of white composite quartz continues the kitchen work surface into the dining table. In the ceiling, flush mounted LED strips to imply these zones. Strong geometric lines of light, reminiscent of a Dan Flavin sculpture, are clearly visible from the outside looking up through the leaves.
all images © Darren Bradley