“Located in an old apple orchard, the landscape created for this second home in a Northern California farming community is deliberately restrained, allowing the site’s spectacular views to predominate, and not interfering with the live oaks that have reclaimed portions of the orchard. The various elements of the design adopt materials commonly found on farms in the area, including the concrete walkways and platforms, gravel paths to a vegetable garden, board-formed concrete steps at the entrance, and wood steps to a revitalized fruit orchard on the lower section of the site. The scarce water supply is carefully conserved, making this project as environmentally viable as it is beautiful.”
– 2019 Awards Jury
The three-acre site is at the intersection of coastal oak woodlands and cultivated fields of vineyards and Gravenstein apple orchards. The Gravenstein was the most widely grown crop in the small farming community of Sebastopol in Northern California during the early 20th century when much of the harvest was used for apple sauce and dried apples shipped to troops during WWII. Due to disease and lower yields, only a few orchards remain that have not been replaced by the more profitable grape growing. The house and an existing neglected Gravenstein apple orchard share the property with coastal live oaks that have gradually reclaimed the hedgerows and sections of the orchard that died. Where the apple trees have succumbed to the oaks, the design allows the oaks to reclaim their natural habitat. In areas where the fruit trees are still healthy, the agricultural history of apple cultivation is preserved by restoring portions of the orchard with new trees.
▲场地平面图：橡树林和果园。Site Plan. Oak woodlands and orchard
▲场地原貌和周边环境。在沿海橡树林的边缘，历史悠久的格拉文施泰因苹果园仅存留下一小部分，并散布在因为产量高、利润足而替代了农田的葡萄园中。Existing Site and Context: At the edge of the coastal oak woodlands, remnants of the historic Gravenstein apple orchards are scattered among the productive and lucrative vineyards that have replaced the earlier crop.
▲历史遗留的苹果树：仍旧健康的苹果树得到了维护，以延续该地区种植和出口苹果的农业历史。Apple Tree as Historical Remnant: The healthy apple trees were maintained to preserve the agricultural history of apple growing and shipping in the area.
▲本地材料：仿木混凝土、砾石和木材使人联想到农社中常见的实用材料。Local Materials: Board formed concrete, gravel, and wood recall the utilitarian materials that are typical in the farming community.
▲本地橡树和草：原本生长在橡树下方的具有侵略性的植物被移除并替换以加利福尼亚本地的羊茅草。Native Oaks and Grasses: Competing plants were removed under the coast live oaks and replaced with native California fescue.
▲视野：林下植物被替换为低矮的原生草，使房屋和山谷可以从车道和入口步道望见。Vistas: By replacing the understory plants with low native grasses, views of the house and valley are visible from the driveway and entry walk.
▲恢复后的果园：由于病害和疏于管理，果园中的一半果树被替换为产量更高的品种。在生产旺季，果园和菜园的收益都将捐赠给当地的庇护所。Restored Apple Orchard: Due to disease and neglect, half of the orchard was replaced with a hearty variety of apple. During peak season, the proceeds from the vegetable garden and orchard are donated to local shelters.
▲通往果园的步道：步道的朝向在提供果园路径的同时也引入了远处的风景。Walk to Orchard: The orientation of the walk engages the distant landscape and allows access to the orchard.
▲木桥横跨在鹿草和薰衣草地上方，并将房屋连接至通往游泳池的垫脚石路。Wood Bridge: A wood bridge hovers above the deer grass and lavender, connecting house to the pool stepping stones.
▲避世之所：这座房子和它周围的土地成为了业主及其亲友的休闲寓所，在北加州发生火灾期间，这里还曾临时收留过几个流离失所的家庭。Site as Retreat: The house and property are used as a retreat for the clients, their friends, as well as a temporary shelter for several families who lost their homes in the Northern California wildfires.
▲粼粼波光：蓝色的泳池瓷砖与北加州的晴空相互映衬。Reflective Light Blue pool tile reflects the rich Northern California sky.
▲纹理：和煦的阳光从加州羊茅草的缝隙间透过。Texture: The inflorescence of the California fescue captures the filtered light.
THE CLIENT AND COMMUNITY
The site is in a rural setting where the client engages in farm living, grows and cares for vegetable gardens, fruit trees, and enjoys the outdoors. The property is a refuge from the city for the client, as well as a welcoming retreat-like place for friends and families to come and stay for extended periods of time. During the Northern California wildfires, the house was used as a temporary shelter for several families who lost their homes.
THE SITE AND MATERIALS
The open landscape and spectacular views dictate a design that intervenes with subtlety. The introduction of simple forms and the use of vernacular materials are used as means to appreciate the natural beauty and history of the site. Upon entering the property, the concrete steps, board formed concrete, gravel courtyards, and a wood bench recall the utilitarian materials that are typical in the farming community. The orthogonal concrete platforms focus the attention on the vineyards in the distance while highlighting the delicate textures and patterns of lights and shadows of the native grasses. The “arms” that extend from either side of the house to the pool decking and gravel walk to the vegetable gardens define the region where the farmed and gridded patterns of the vineyards and orchard meet the less controlled landscape consisting of live oaks and California fescue. A wood bridge spans a stretch of deer grass before entering the house at the front and side yards. The concrete walk engages the distant landscape and connects the entry courtyard to the rear deck and terminates with wood steps to the orchard below.
Because of a scarcity of water in California, the terrain is graded to utilize roof run-off and rainwater as sources of irrigation for the more water demanding apple orchard. Water is directed through a shallow swale between the pool and the house, terminating in a deep gravel trench that holds water during heavy rains and slowly releases it to the apple orchard at the lower property. Due to disease, neglect, and age, half of the existing Gravenstein apple orchard was replaced with ‘Red Fuji’ and ‘Pink Lady’ apple varieties grafted to a drought and high temperature resistant rootstock. Ideal for storing and shipping, the hearty apples are important given that a portion of the harvest is donated to local food banks and shelters where they are easily stored for a length of time.
In the oak woodlands, a competing understory growth of exotic shrubs and trees prevented the oaks from reaching full maturity. The undergrowth was removed and replaced with native California fescue and deer grass. The portions of the site that were disturbed during construction were planted with a native grass and wildflower seed mix to reduce the number of invasive non-native grasses and perennials that covered the site before construction. A cover crop of crimson clover was planted between the fruit trees in the orchard. After the carpet of red flowers bloom, the legume is tilled into the ground which provides nitrogen to the soil, protects the soil from erosion, and competes with weeds.