Goto House is positioned at the edge of a meadow on a rugged 95-acre parcel in Napa County overlooking Lake Berryessa. The meadow offers a clearing in the oak, pine and manzanita covered surrounding hills. A driving concern for the project became how to directly and spatially engage the multi-directionality and dynamic phenomena of the site’s panoramic views. The panorama that wraps the house differs significantly on each side. The house’s design engages the spatial dynamics of its situation through the formal and experiential activation of negative space relative to conditions of surface, material, view and landscape.
The project brief called for a simple, single story modern second home offering maximum connection between interior and exterior, with a program comprising four main zones totaling about 2,200sf: 1. living/dining/kitchen, 2. master bedroom, 3. kid’s bedroom and 4. yoga/guest room and guest bath. A three-dimensional diagram evolved through the design process that configures the four program zones as 4 individual simple rectangular blocks arranged around a central rhombus-shaped court, separated by four interstitial covered decks. The four blocks are bound together by a faceted hexagon-shaped metal roof. The house’s resulting form reads as a metal-clad hexagonal monolith that is inflected, articulated and softened by the four wedge-shaped ‘carved out’ cedar-lined covered deck volumes.
As one moves about the house, the spatial experience offered is one of dynamic balance between introversion toward the central glass-walled court and extroversion toward the surrounding views. This is reinforced through the radial directionality of the upward-and-outward sloping open ceilings. The four covered decks act as spatial hinges between the four program blocks, interconnecting house and landscape, and capitalizing on the site’s opportunities for indoor-outdoor living.
Unstable soils prompted a mat slab solution for the house’s foundation. We took advantage of the extra thickness of the slab, tapering its perimeter upward from the ground, mirroring the roof’s upward slope from the central court. This slab edge detail allows the house to float slightly above the ground – an effect that contributes to a certain flickering reading the house’s geometry engenders, as it conveys a sense of the house being an autonomous form imported to the site, while at the same time constituting a site-specific form particularly informed and shaped by its surroundings.
The house is entirely off the grid: power comes only from an integrated solar PV panel and battery system located on and within the garage, cooling from natural cross-ventilation, water comes entirely from an on-site spring. The site design arranges the freestanding garage in an optimum position for solar energy collection, and a pool terrace between the house’s living spaces and the lake beyond.