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Carved into the Big Sur landscape: Dani Ridge House

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Dani Ridge House is a gorgeous contemporary vacation retreat carved into a hillside, designed by Carver + Schicketanz, located in Big Sur, California. The 1,900 square foot home looks upon the Pacific through floor-to-ceiling windows that nearly stretch the perimeter of the house, which uses daylighting and shading to control temperatures. Hoping not to obstruct their neighbors’ views, the clients asked the architects to add a native green roof, which from above looks essentially identical to the surrounding greenery. In fact, it blends so well into the landscape that if you drive by, you just might miss it.

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In order to conceal this home from its uphill neighbors a shelf was cut into the narrow slice of grassland located between an access road on one side and the steep slopes of the West Coast on the other. The uphill land extends as a green roof over the underground portions of the home-terminating on the gently curved roof of the living room.

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All utilities, including the 5,000 gallon water storage tank, were placed underground in order to preserve the surrounding landscape.

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Purpose of the home for the client: To be used as a vacation home for a family with two young daughters. Three bedrooms, two bath rooms, modest living area, integrated/ open kitchen and take advantage of the great views.

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Design concept of the project: To interrupt the native landscape to the least extent possible, to interlock the structure with the land as much as possible.

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The design process: We decided to cut a wedge into the gentle hill side and tie the house to the hill and accommodate many functions (garage, laundry, powder room, pantry, mechanical room) underground. As a result the native meadow rolls onto the northern part of the house and ties the building to the landscape. Therefore the house is barely visible to the uphill neighbors.

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What is inspiring about this place / setting to architect: The views, the landscape, the adventurous clients. What were the goals we sought to achieve? How did we achieve them? We wanted the home to blend with the land, and give the clients a perfect retreat. We accomplished this by cutting a wedge into the gentle hillside and using this space to accommodate multiple functions (garage, laundry, powder room, pantry, mechanical room) underground.

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As a result the native meadow rolls onto the northern part of the house and ties the building to the landscape. Therefore the house is barely visible to the uphill neighbors. Process for the material and finish selections for the project: We were looking for durable and easy-to-maintain finishes which are soothing to the eye and compliment the native grass land.

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Photos: Robert Canfield

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