100 miles north of San Francisco on Highway One, The Sea Ranch is a community originally built in the 1960s as an experiment in building an environmentally sensitive community. Visualized by the Landscape Architect, Lawrence Halprin, development was planned to mesh with the existing land forms and minimize disturbance. Specifically, house parcels were organized within Cypress hedgerow wind breaks planted by ranchers to protect livestock in the early 1900s. Minimal, thematic architecture was used by founding architects, Joseph Esherick and the firm, Moore Lyndon Turnbull Whitaker that responded to wind and sun as initial form givers. An organic, common sense approach allowed the landscape to live and the houses and communal buildings to be built as a settlement based on similar values and construction methods. The houses here appear as weathered boats headed into the wind to minimize its impact.
The sound and feel of the beach break are strong. The property sits on the south side of the hedgerow, protected from the wind and looks across the meadow to the lodge and up to the ridge above Highway One. Adjacent, the original Demonstration Houses designed by Joseph Esherick in 1966, wrap around the hedgerow and back up to the highway. A filtered view exists through and over the Hedgerow Houses up the coast to the north. To the east, a farm stand of conifers planted by Lawrence Halprin remain in a densely packed thicket that creates a screen to the morning sun. Various footpaths lead through the tall grass across the meadow to the south from the neighborhood to Black Point Beach and the Lodge.
The formal vocabulary of the built context has been repeated via a simple rectangular shed with the family level elevated above the sleeping level to maximize views. Sliding Cedar shutters allow the house to be closed on departure, leaving a spare, barn like building. The main roof pitches up to the south like the neighboring houses. Concealed from view, a gravel drive enters under a Cypress along the east property line. Half hidden in the trees, the carport is built with galvanized steel. This allows the thematically consistent wood house to live quietly at the edge of the grassy meadow unencumbered by cars or a driveway. Materials are unfinished cedar, inside and out, frameless windows and zinc roof. From the meadow and Highway One, Black Point Beach House will appear as a simple shed like its neighbors and is designed to be low maintenance and achieve net zero energy usage annually.
Faulkner Architects Team