Transparency and light defining contemporary Casa Cielo Azul

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Casa Cielo Azul designed with transparency and light by Signum Architecture together with Leslie Wilks Design, nestled in the hills above St. Helena, California. Upon approach to this property, the visitor does not witness the extraordinary view until arriving at the edge of the hill. Sited to capture that surprise and designed to invoke the response the owner had to a small, blue glass tile, the home exudes an exquisite tranquility. Once inside, the energetic juxtaposition of open and intimate spaces accommodates both private life and entertaining.

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The soaring blue wall directs toward the main view, with texture giving it depth and two rectangular perforations connecting it to sky. When the light is just right, the wall and the sky appear to merge. The use of saturated color and large, flat planes recalls the sensual, modernist work of Luis Barragan, yet the transparency and the flow of the house is a clear expression of contemporary wine country life.

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The purity of design has a very cool, calm effect on each room. Natural light plays on the plaster walls. Cross breezes keep the rooms comfortable all year. The house was designed to be almost transparent, with natural light and fresh air. An elongated blue stucco wall punctuates the low-slung residence. A concrete path leads to a pivoting glass front door. To the left of the wall is the garage.

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The blue wall’s surface is stucco with gravel in the mix to create a rough- textured surface. The wall was painted with coats of blue paint. The dramatic hue was custom-designed.

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The home includes two bedrooms, two-and-a-half bathrooms, office, wine cellar and covered terrace. Floor to ceiling glass in the kitchen, where the owners spend most of their time, fills the room with natural light. Indoor materials and floor treatments flow out onto an open terrace, further blurring the boundary between outdoors and in.

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Views of the valley are framed by Howell Mountain. San Francisco is visible, far to the south, on a clear day, designed as a see-through house.

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Photos: Adrian Gregoretti

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