Tallwood Residence

This new home is located on a beautiful 1.8 acre wooded hillside in Atherton, California. The magnificent site was very challenging, as it included steep slopes and 106 mature trees, of which 50 were large heritage trees. An existing one story 2500 square foot home and a swimming pool occupied the only level area on the property, and the only area without mature trees. Still, the new owners wanted their home to be embedded in nature, not merely near nature.

The solution is a new 9,600 square feet two story residence, with a basement, a swimming pool, and a detached garage, located on the east portion of the site, where the hillside is steep and the vegetation is dense. The building weaves through a forest of mature heritage trees, mostly oaks, without requiring removal of a single tree. The entrance is from the west, near the board-formed concrete-clad stair that services all levels of the home. The main, ground floor level includes all of the ‘public’ spaces of the home – kitchen, dining, and living spaces – along with a home office, a children’s play and study area, and a guest suite. All family bedrooms are located on the upper level. A media room, gym, and wine cellar are located in the basement.

The architectural composition is informed by the topography and vegetation of the site, as the building weaves through the trees and steps down the hillside. Anchored by the concrete stair core, the composition is fully knitted to the site context. The material palette is simple with three major materials – board-formed concrete, Western Red Cedar boards, and glass. The simplicity of this palette helps to impart a feeling of calm to the complex architectural composition. Large overhangs work in tandem with the heritage trees in shading the glazing on the south and west elevations. Interior spaces blend with exterior spaces with the use of floor to ceiling and wall to wall glass. Terraces step down the hillside on the south side of the home, following the contours of the land, terminating at a linear infinity edge swimming pool at the bottom of the hill.

Facts & Figures

Atherton, California

In Progress, Residential, Single Family

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