Development - Sheet PD - 1 with notations
download pdf file of Sheet PD 1 • link to larger view of Sheet
page describes Design Development concepts as illustrated
on Sheet PD 1. There will be three other drawing
in this stage of development. PD 1 illustrates
the front elevation of the existing house as it
is to be modified and the plan at the level of
the Nest [to be built on the existing Bedroom
and carport roof]. PD 2 will show the side view
(looking NE) and the floor plan at the first floor
level. PD 3 will show sections, Lift details from
Bedroom to Nest and other construction details.
PD 4 will show all
site preparation work including water capture
and storage. Energy systems upgrades will be described
on Sheet PD
concept of Gail’s Nest is now facing
the serious prospect of building [link].
As the Design Development
process continues, the idea will undergo progressive
refinement. Therefore, it is important to make
the idea-of-it as clear as possible so
that, in the process of being made build-able,
it is not compromised. This is a small work. For
size (of enclosed
space) it will be expensive. For the total new
functionality it will provide, it will not be expensive.
to be properly rendered, has to be built with great
precision. As organic, at home in the woods and
a deliberate exemplar of the Bay Area Style that
it is, the Nest has aspects (the dome, elevator
and solar system) requiring sophisticated technology
and innovation. The integration
“modern” elements with a Mendocino [link] “cabin”
is mission critical to the theme [link] of
Nest, besides supporting an important function in
support of our life-work style, is an “art
that pays homage to, and has a little fun with, the
many architectural idioms and traditions which combine
to make what is commonly referred to as the “Bay
Some of these I have mentioned elsewhere [link].
In the comments below, I will make specific note
of references the Nest makes to individual works,
ideas they represent and their fit with this project.
of recent, have become a commodity, and architecture,
an exercise of stars making meaningless gestures
- icons of a society without grounding in physical
reality. This is understandable given all the many
choices so suddenly released upon the earth. There
remain, however, places to remind us of where we
came from and where we might go if we choose to remember [link].
It is important to build many more such places for
they remind us of who we are and what we can become.
The residence is the most challenging of architectural
living-workplace even more so. These make INTIMATE architecture.
The ACT of building is a basic human gesture.
Over the last 50 years, both structure and the art
of building have been progressively divorced from
the reality of the interior space of our buildings
and our experience of them. This project is a deliberate
exercise in INTEGRATION. It runs counter
to what has become an abnormal norm. The book that
may come of it has this purpose. The place where
the book - and other works - is to be written
has the same purpose.
basic elements of the Nest are revealed, by this elevation,
as long as two aspects of the site are kept in mind,
slopes away from the existing house across the entire
south west-to-east axis. Only the top of the Nest dome
will be viable, as example, from the street as it will
screed by the carport roof trellis. The second aspect
to keep in mind is that the site is heavily forested
with second growth redwoods that are approximately
100 years old (since the site was last clear cut). In
the Edwards who owned the property for over 25 years
did extensive pruning and landscaping to create the
basic setting of the existing house. The entire (nearly
acre) site is filled with rhododendrons. It is important
to revisit the photos of the Elsewhere property
These aspects of the site totally set the opportunity
for prospect and refuge that the Nest (and other future
additions) is designed to augment.
that, the first thing to see is the STANCE that
the Nest takes. Posture is important. This work stands
tall and is PRESENT. It is not arrogant nor
does it attract attention to itself - it is expressive of
its mission. It is a place to experience work
in harmony with the Mendocino landscape - an Ecotopian
harmony. The essence of this place is how the world is from
this work-perch. What do you see - and not? What do you
hear when the flower pedals are open? How do the earth
and trees smell on a warm summer afternoon? How is the
light filtered first by the redwoods and then by the
early work was the education of young children. The
geometry and colors of the the two light towers are deliberate
references to Frank Lloyd Wright’s stained glass
window in the Coonley playhouse. He returned to this
the Midway Gardens project in Chicago almost a decade
later. Both connote exuberance, festivity and playfulness.
two towers, one in view from the desk and one above,
an interesting juxtaposition is created. The tower
above the dome - think of it as a lantern - will be a
source of ambient light for the Nest at night.
horizontal line of the cantilevered steel and mesh screen
divides the glass section of the dome into two distinct
parts. The top part is to read like a lamp, a lantern
- it is a creature of light, colored and translucent,
Beneath the screen, is seamless transparent curved glass.
The steel frames of the upper portion, which also hold
the fixed and operable glass sections, run behind the
clear glass below. This difference between the upper
and lower portions of the glass is not only in response
to the light environment - they deeply reflect the function
of the space. Of the three dome sections, the top is
Aladdin’s Lamp. The center section is an unobstructed
view of the world, the bottom is the earth rising in
the form of a redwood tree.
Nest is surrounded by redwood trees. It, itself, is a
tree house with a massive redwood base. The tree pattern
is seen around the Nest - above it, is sky. The pattern
above is to be found in the colored obscure glazing -
created by layer on layer of materials - and its shape.
All together, one is placed in NATURE.
first deck off of the Nest is directly over the Bedroom
below - it reflects its foot print including closet
and hallway entry . The ladder descends to the deck alcove
below off the Bathroom and entering the kitchen. The
trunk of the Nest is centered on the corner
of the Bedroom with the stanchions embedded in the two
outside Bedroom walls. Other than the descending curve
of the stanchions, the walls will be wood framed French
Doors and windows. [see
PD 2]. Thus, there is a very intimate relationship
between the Nest and the room below.
existing house is extraordinarily well positioned on
the site. The couple we purchased it from spent more
20 years fitting the house to the landscape. The weak
spot is the SW corner of the house. The house just seems
to end here with no punctuation. The Bedroom is the only
dark room in the house - all the other rooms each get
at three different times of the day. The house is surrounded
by deck whose square footage exceeds that of the interior.
The side deck, which is a wonderful sitting area [link],
is not well connected to the rest of the house.
Nest will “anchor” this end of the house
and it will cantilever out over the side deck. All will
be much more
“complete” with this new arrangement. With
the two deck above, free of nibbling deer, Elsewhere
ship-like: the structure can be employed form all sides
including being “on” and “under” it [link].
This combines to make a variety of spaces, indoors, outdoors
areas, that orient to all points of the compass. Protected
urban patios in a forest landscape.
The sliding glass doors
are curved and are offset from the line of the basic
dome. This resolves what otherwise would be both awkward
geometry and impossible to function door mechanisms.
This requires a section of flat glass in the cantilevered
steel and mesh screen overhead from the doors back
to the head of the dome. The Lift platform is level with
floor at the built-in workstation and steps down to
the deck level which makes up one quadrant of the Nest.
Lift can stop at this level to provide wheel chair
raised light-tube provides early morning to late afternoon
light to the bedroom below. A light weight steel railing
(not shown on the elevations) surrounds the deck areas.
A new trellis facia closes off the outer edge of the
existing roof line and extends the carport front to create
an Entry Court. The existing facia presents a weak line
and an unpleasant slope. The new 2x2 trellis will level
the line, create depth at the top and bottom, and provides
an arbor for crawling plants. The detailing derives from
three sources: Victorian, Wright and Maybeck - all progenitors
of the Bay Area style.
sections of the dome open like pedals of a flower. The
dome is a mixed metaphor: a flower - an organic thing;
and, a Tiffany lamp - a human made thing. When the pedals
are open the trunk of the structure will act like a chimney
and draw air upward from below. Depending on the placement
of the lift (open or closed), the weather, sun position
and the window below, a variety of air flows and temperatures
can be achieved reinforcing the nature-human symbiosis
theme of the work.
are three elements to talk about with this view, The
second deck, the solar collector and the Entry Court
Yard. The deck immediately off the Nest will get mid
morning and early afternoon light. As the day progresses,
it become shaded by trees and by the Nest structure
itself. It will be a nice intimate sitting area on a
afternoon. The second deck will get more exposure to
direct sunlight and the solar collector even more.
This is a good Summer sun bathing area and a warm sitting
area in winter. The two decks, together, are large
enough for a modest size reception. This part of the
not primarily for entertainment, yet, it will serve
well for wine and conversation - it is a place for serious
solar collector is small - 100 square feet. Its effectiveness
will be augmented by opening reflection panels. Because
of tree shading, there are few hours of uninterrupted
sunlight. By adjusting the reflection panels, highly
focused light can be brought to the reflector for most
of the day. The panels will be operated by computer and
sensors. Over time, the maximum capture algorithms will
be “learned.” Each of the four panels will configure
independently creating a flower-like response to the
changing sun and cloud pattern.
is no existing distinct entry to the house. This
is corrected by the trellis structure, which creates
courtyard; and, also, the sliding doors
porch. The trellis integrates the
upper Nest level and the Entry. The extended wall separates
Court from the door
to the front decks thereby creating two areas.
interface of the Nest to the Deck is critical. Walking
“out” onto the deck has to be a natural
extension of the Nest’s interior. There are multiple
nuances of how prospect
and refuge is expressed within these various areas.
The deck is a flat plane, and open, and is bound by the
dome on one side and the linear shape of the house
the other. It looks down into essentially four different
landscapes and “out” onto two different
vistas. Both the Nest and the roof deck have a platform
sense and will feel like they are floating in air over
the site. Exploiting this sense is mission critical
to the function of the Nest. Art expresses a viewpoint,
a sense of reality [link].
Architecture presents a view of a specific reality
and an armature that facilitates
a way of engaging with it [link].
the horizontal plane, the ring of redwoods sets the first
layer of boundaries which give way to a near infinite
view. As the sun passes, the Deck will have alternating
periods of shade and and bright sunlight. The complete
nature of this lighting changes about every two hours.
This plays out in different ways in the different
seasons. Because of its exposure, The deck outside the
Nest will be one of the warmest places on the property
and this is will a plus in the cooler months of the year.
the Nest the viewpoint is more focused and “controlled.”
The view is long range and horizontal through
a band of continuous, uninterrupted glazing, framed
the desktop and the cantilevered screen. This is a
workplace and environment for a rare, serious, intimate
dialog. Acoustically, the nest when closed will be silent.
The outside sounds of nature are let in by opening the
sliding doors and roof pedals.
adjacent house is separated from the nest by a 10 food
(from floor line) drop in elevation and dense foliage.
The sight lines are indicated on the drawings yet these
will be misinterpreted if the barrier of trees are
not taken into account. The horizontal view line from
position, at the desk, in the Nest looks over the top
of the adjacent house. All that you will see is layers
of redwoods and, ultimately, the horizon and the sea.
return view can “see” only above sitting head height
and only to the extent that the structure can be seen
at all through the landscape. The Nest, from the house,
will appear as a sparkling lantern poking in and out
trees. The face of the dome is 45 feet from the side
of the house; the cantilevered screen - which will be
the most dominate element as viewed from the house (being
horizontal), is a little over 41 feet away.
the interference of these two structures - one to another
- is minimal. This is a forest landscape, however, the
lots are relatively small. The Elsewhere property is
two lots and they make up less than an acre. Structures
on adjacent properties should not impose on one another.
This is seems to be a forgotten concept in modern development.
This does not mean that they cannot be close to one another
- it just means that what is “my” structure is “their”
background to someone else. These factors should always
be considered. It is embarrassing to have to note this
but present design ethics compel it.
noted above, the existing house does not have a formal
Entry. There exists a nook between the Carport and the
house with step up to a door that leads directly into
the Living Room. This is poor Pattern Language [link].
Also, the relationship to this “entry” and the front
deck, and approach to both, has many ambiguities. The
trellis at the facia level frames the lower roof line
(which accentuates the higher roof and trellis and
creates a court that has interesting horizontal and
boundaries. This creates a four step process in the
entering experience. The Court itself will be richly
with potted plants as will various sections of the
front deck. The large tree cluster on the road side
deck is the major anchor in this portion of the landscape.
various platforms, added to the front deck, along with
potted plants will create several intimate areas for
and conversation that receive light and shadow at different
times of the the day. The extension of the Living Room
wall and planting will screen the approach to the Entry
Court and the front decking from one another and bring
suitable focus to each area.
these changes and the addition of the door in the Living
Room front wall, the front deck area becomes a natural
extension of the Living Room. Intimate, outdoor sitting
areas rich with plants and art objects has long been
a mainstay of the Bay Area Style. It is a major signature
element of the style and the way of living that gave
rise to it. The way that the front deck is framed by
the greater landscape and the house make this an ideal
setting for plants, wine and dialog.
major alteration to the existing house is the roof -
it is extended and a trellis is added. The present structure
is a simple expression of the Sea Ranch idiom [link].
I respect this body of work, however, there are problems
it does not deal with and a number of alterations have
already been made to this house that destroy the continuous,
shingled “bent-plane” so common to this style. There
was sever water damage to the house by leakage at the
roof wall seam along the long outer wall facing up
slope and northerly. The last owner replace the wood
asphalt tiles and copious flashing. Effective for leaks
but less than harmonious in regards the original design
intent. Interior blinds were added in the clearstory
windows to control sunlight.
are meant to shelter and the they should express shelter.
By extending the roof and adding trellises, the building
is better protected, a water storage function is provided
(and water kept away from the foundations), greater screening
is provided and the roof “mass” is effected two ways:
on one hand it is better balanced with the Nest and on
the other it is much lighter. It also pulls the eye out
toward the sky.
see how this works, you have to study both plan and elevation
and put them together in your mind. There are layers
of roof that cantilever on cantilever getting progressively
lighter and open. These are juxtaposed on elements below
like the carport trellis forming the Entry Court. Of
the three ways to create termination: bending, dying
against a greater mass, extreme cantilever - it is the
latter that is used here.
slope from the existing house is a full lot with no structure
on it. The slope continues from the the drawing and the
top property is higher than both the existing house
and the Nest when built. There is a house near the property
line on the next lot over. I have thought of two Studio
- Guest House solutions. The first, as series of separated
glass boxes with each serving a unique function [link],
and the second a semi-circular postUsonian suspended
off a central mass [link].
Both of these concepts can be made to work and both
have something different to offer. Gail has objections
both designs: she feels that the glass boxes will take
up too much of the site and that the postUsonian will
dominate the entire complex. While both these objections
can be dealt with in purely architectural terms, the
essence of the concerns has merit. It boils down to
what is the use of this environment to be?
think the glass box scheme actually serves the program
well. They will, by necessity, spread all over the remaining
site. The postUsonian actually provides functions that
are best served by my Bay Area Studio [link] which
will have to be built under any circumstance. As a program,
the postUsonian may be more than is required fore Elsewhere
which is Gail’s home and workplace and my place to come
home to when I am free of the demands of location associated
with my work. The Elsewhere site will never support the
robust workspace that my work requires.
have decided on a compact earth-sheltered structure that
sits in an already clear area, looks over the existing
presents a green roof to our
May 30, 2005 • updated: June 9, 2005
Three of Gail’s Nest
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