Set on a sunny clearing amid a beautiful landscape of ancient oak groves and rolling hills in the Santa Lucia Preserve, a sustainable community in Carmel Valley, California, Carmel Valley Residence by San Francisco-based practice Piechota Architects is a contemporary family home of modernist sensibility that effortlessly blends in with its natural setting. Following the contours of the landscape, the building’s L-shape plan hugs the perimeter of the forest while its orientation ensures broad valley views. Featuring bands of floor-to-ceiling glazing, natural cedar and weathered steel cladding, and concrete elements, the residence echoes the surrounding landscape, further blurring the lines between the natural and the manmade.
Built on a gentle hillside, the residence is comprised of two blocks, one housing the communal areas, the other the private quarters, connected by an enclosed upper-storey bridge. A wide staircase passing under the bridge leads you up from the parking area downhill to a courtyard uphill where the main entrance of the house is located. Strategically orientated so as to offer unobstructed views over the valley, the landscaped courtyard is flanked by the L-shaped building and a sheltered outdoor living area, complete with a ceiling fan and fireplace, through which a paved path leads to a fire pit overlooking the residence and the surrounding nature, while a second sheltered terrace, inserted between the master and guest suites, features an outdoor Jacuzzi.
Wrapped in bands of natural cedar, glazing, and weathered steel, occasionally interrupted by concrete blocks, the building is a paradigm of contemporary modernism and at the same time harmoniously integrated int0 the surrounding natural landscape. Similarly to the building’s exterior, the interior design embraces an aesthetic modern minimalism and a subtle palette of natural materials, predominantly timber, which is used for flooring, panelling and built-in furniture, as well as marble. But it is the generous provision of glazing, in the form of custom produced floor-to-ceiling glass that allows nature to be part of the décor. Strategically orientated and thoughtfully shaped, all windows and openings frame spectacular views of the surrounding oak groves and the rolling landscape seen through the clearings between them. With a solar roof, high efficiency plumbing, LED lighting, and operable windows for natural ventilation, the residence not only revels in the beauty of the natural setting but also vies to sustain it.