Raw materials were specified for the exterior, including Corten steel that weathers to a rusty patina, board-formed concrete, cedar and eucalyptus wood, which forms the solar screen.
"All materials have a natural tendency towards movement and change, and we often make futile attempts to stop this process," the architect says. "For this house, we embraced the inevitable weathering and warping of materials. The steel rusts, the cedar greys and fades, and the eucalyptus planks on the solar screen crook, cup, bow and twist, becoming slightly more deformed every day."
Schwartz says the screen is a gesture to the natural and man-made landscape. It recalls the movement of native grasses in the wind, and is reminiscent of timber stacks at the local mills of Marin County.
Much of the house is hidden from view, however it is only on the inside that the true size, and the view, become apparent. The front door is aligned so that when it opens, there is a sightline right through the house to the highest ridge on the hill behind one of several direct connections to key topographical features.
"The circulation corridor of the house runs along the southern edge, coinciding with an uninterrupted loop running through the home to the ridgeline above," says the architect. "A hinge' in the circulation spine breaks open the space for a moment, directing views to the north ridge and south courtyard. A secondary loop forms a figure eight connecting a series of boardwalks with a stand of oak trees to the east and a rock outcropping to the west."
Together, the house and a separate work studio cover approximately 370m². The main house is divided into two simple blocks, providing a day zone and a night zone, which are separated at the hinge by the south courtyard.
Natural and raw materials feature inside as well as out. Internal soffits, wall panelling and cabinetry are in Douglas fir, and the flooring is a polished coloured concrete slab. The grey and natural wood tones are repeated in furnishings, which reflect a Mid-century Modern influence.