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Crook | Cup | Bow | Twist

Schwartz and Architecture

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  • Neal J. Schwartz

Project Status



4,000 sq. feet


Design Awards

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Project Description

The proposal first analyzes the site as a series of existing flows or “routes” across the landscape, which then catalogues into three types: • Topographic Routes of terrain, water, and vegetation; • Constructed Routes of trails, bridges, and boardwalks; and • Diurnal Routes of sun path, thermal exchange, and human occupation. The negotiation of these systems of movement establishes the logic of the site plan and the orientation and organization of the new home. Conceptually, the project becomes a highly choreographed knot at the center of these routes, drawing strands in, engaging them with others, and propelling them back out again. The low-slung, elongated mass complements the rolling ridges of the surrounding landforms and places it in scale with the expansive site. At the detail level, rather than fight against the inevitable weathering of materials, we embrace it. The steel rusts, the cedar siding greys and fades, and the eucalyptus solar screen crooks, cups, bows, and twists –becoming slightly more deformed and gestural each day. The screen’s wood is milled and coded according to its predominant deformation tendencies, allowing for loose ends with the expectation that as the wood weathers, its latent potential energy will become increasingly expressed. The choice of Eucalyptus is strategic here, taking a local invasive species known for its instability and turning it to productive use in the design. The project develops a strategy of building that fluidly integrates new man-made systems with the governing natural ones. As designed, it is almost entirely off-grid, exceeding the highest level of Marin County Green Building standards. The design elucidates a set of complex relationships between landscape, ecosystems, construction techniques, and ultimately, human occupation. The work tries to make present in architecture the latent gestures of the natural world – a critical agenda for the next generation of sustainable architecture.
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