Moss Rock

View From Pool Looking Towards Office Structure Photography By Jason Liske 2000

Moss Rock is a new Home Office on a 9-acre rural site overlooking a dense forest of Douglas fir, madrone and oak trees, in Healdsburg, California. Complimenting the pre-existing main house, which was constructed in 2008, Moss Rock is Net Zero and fully off-the-grid. Moss Rock has been designed to be a peaceful and quiet environment, remote from the main house, complimenting the beauty of the natural environment and providing a sublime setting for creative work. The design is as simple and timeless as a lantern set in nature – a wood and glass box, supported by two concrete core elements, floating above the land. The structural solution of lifting the building off the ground addressed two key design issues: covering (and hiding) an unsightly pre-existing concrete water storage tank, and negotiating the very steep topography, without creating an unwanted crawlspace. The new structure hovers over the existing water tank and the land on the north-east side, as it dramatically soars above the steep terrain to the south-west.

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A strong basic scheme, flawlessly detailed and executed. | Exterior photos illustrate the project’s wonderful siting. | The window system is perfect. | An extremely clear accessory building/studio.

//framework for design excellence measures
Measure 1: Design for Integration
Nestled among a forest of Douglas Fir, Madrone and Oak trees, Moss Rock is a model for sustainability, energy and design.

Moss Rock is a net-zero home office that operates completely off the grid and maximizes the connection between architecture and nature, blurring boundaries between inside and out.
The building is carefully sited directly over a pre-existing exposed concrete water storage tank west of the main house, partially above a narrow level pad, and partially over a steep decline.  Supported by two cast-in-place concrete elements, the new glass and wood structure hovers above the water storage tank and cantilevers above the downslope allowing the natural topography to flow beneath it. 
Measure 2: Design for Equitable Communities
The office space is a healthy environment for the occupants to work in with natural light and ventilation as well as natural and healthy finishes.
Measure 3: Design for Ecosystems
The structure was sited in a forest of Douglas Fir, Madrone and Oak trees and minimizes site disturbance. New landscaping incorporated native and drought tolerant plants in all the surrounding areas around the home.  The building is carefully sited directly over a pre-existing exposed concrete water storage tank west of the main house, partially above a narrow level pad, and partially over a steep decline.  Preserving the natural topography and the site and minimizing the impact to existing ecosystems was important for the design team and client.
Measure 4: Design for Water
Drought tolerant and native plants are used throughout the landscape.  The project is self sufficient with a well on the property.
Measure 5: Design for Economy
The accessory structure is a home office space that is primarliy used by the two occupants in the household.  However, the open space design allows for flexibility and the room can be used as additional conference and meeting space, an area for the owners children to play while working, and as an extra crash/guest room when needed. 
Measure 6: Design for Energy
The design responds to the desire for a self-sufficient, net-zero building that operates off the grid.  It is sited to maximize daylight and natural ventilation while being shaded by the canopies of the trees.  Its compact form is energy efficient; the building envelope is well insulated to reduce heat loss in the wintertime and keep cool in the summertime.  Windows aid in ventilation and air quality if the grid or mechanical systems are down.  The PV array was increased to 21.6KW and batteries added to enable the prooperty to function off the energy grid.
Measure 7: Design for Well-Being
Situated among oaks, firs and madrones, Moss Rock blends into its surroundings.  The structure hovers above the existing water tank and cantilevers effortlessly above the sloped topography.  Floor to ceiling windows and a linear skylight maximize daylighting and allows the room to extend outdoors.  Views of the surrounding trees and nature encircle the space.  Operable windows on three sides create cross ventilation allowing fresh air to circulate the space.  Shades provide glare control as well as minimize solar heat gain.  Indoor materials were selected carefully to promote indoor air quality, wellness and health. 
Measure 8: Design for Resources
The new home office was designed to hover over the existing property’s water tank and minimizing site disturbance and utilizing the natural pre-existing site topography and landscaping.   
Healthy and low VOC materials and finishes were selected per CalGreen standards and FSC certified wood was used throughout the home.
A waste management plan was in place during the construction of the project and zero waste operations implemented.
Measure 9: Design for Change
The property is located in the Wild fire Influence Zone meaning that scheduled power outages may occur and the structures are susceptible to wildfires.  Because the project is able to operate off the grid and the existing solar PV system has been increased to 21.6KW with battery backup the occupants are able to work and occupy the space without interruption.  
Measure 10: Design for Discovery
There was no formal evaulation done after the completion of the office but the clients are happily working our of their office and love their space! As an office we strive to improve our practice by sharing our process and take lessons that we’ve learned and apply it to the next project.  This project had several details and design moves that have been done in our previous work but refined to produce this particular structure.
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