I decided to develop a more “articulated” and linear scheme for the main house. I stretched the house out along the site to afford the most views to the most rooms. The house is essentially one room deep along a circulation spine. I know your directive mentioned minimal hallways but I felt the benefits of this concept and the many windows actually made an asset of the corridor.
I placed the house up against the existing arroyo at the eastern edge of the property as I wanted to site the house as close to the views as possible, and reduce the view to any obstructions (There is a neighboring property to the north that seems like it might be visible so imagine the house far enough east so that looking northeast you will not focus on it)
I would propose that you slightly excavate the existing arroyo to make it a little deeper and use the earth to raise up the house site slightly. Then locate the house right up against the edge to give the appearance the house sits atop a cliff, the stone terrace has retaining walls to form its edge. This will also have the effect of raising the house a little to improve the view line.
The house is made up of nearly independent structures situated along the circulation spine. The appeal here is that each room has a minimum of 2 and in most cases 3/4 exposures to views and light. Solar gain and cross ventilation is better and the house just feels larger.
This type of house is a little more expensive to construct with more linear feet of foundation and exterior walls meaning more windows; which is aesthetically pleasing but costlier. So assuming your program at up to 4,000 square feet, my goal was to design to the lowest level and keep the house under 3,500 square feet maximum. Not including garages my plan comes in at about 3,425 square feet.
The main center section is then raised about 3 feet above grade and contains the primary living area consisting of living, dining, lounge, casual eating and kitchen which are all open to one another. In the front I also located the study and laundry/pantry. The rear portion containing the main areas has the tallest ceiling at about 14 feet. Tall glass doors with transom windows face the view. I broke up the room into 3 defined areas with columns and overhead soffits to define each space independently without closing off the space. The kitchen and study are in the front separated by the circulation spine with lower ceilings at about 12 feet which allows a row of clerestory windows to admit light into the main space and corridor.
The kitchen is open to the living areas, yet slightly removed at the front corner which allows windows and view out to the entry court. I decided that rather than a booth inside the kitchen, I placed a banquette in the lounge area at the corner with wrap around windows. For the study, I provided a full bath along with french doors of the spine it has a private access off the main entry.
Following the spine north through a glazed connector is a wing containing the master suite and a mud room which is stepped down about 2 feet keeping it slightly raised above the natural grade. The wing also provides access to one of two garages. The master suite is arranged along the spine with the bedroom at the end affording the most ideal views to the northeast. At the center are two large walk-in closets and an expansive spa like bath with a protruding bay wrapped on the exterior by a private garden which contains a vessel tub surrounded by glass. The advantage to this plan is that one can rise in the morning and get ready/depart without disturbing someone sleeping.
The mud room has an additional side entrance, along with a separate wash area for the dogs. Along the glass enclosed walkway to the garage I located a door to a rear walled area which would be partially shaded by the structure and could be a private dog run. In fact the entire corridor from garage to main spine could serve as an indoor dog run.
At the opposite end of the house is the two+ story guest bedroom wing. I stepped the first level down 3 feet to be at grade for walk out terraces. This also enabled me to create a landing so access to the second floor from the main spine is then a shorter rise. The first floor contains 2 bedrooms both with en-suite baths with glass enclosed showers opening onto private outdoor areas. The second floor contains the fourth bedroom which has private access to a shared bath. The remainder of the second floor is a large recreation room. The staircase continues then up to a large roof deck stretching along the entire wing. The resulting stair tower offers a dramatic façade element to the front. From the stair landing another door to a covered walkway connects to the second two car garage. [if budget were a concern you could even phase the construction of the second garage.]
The resulting floor plan is a linear plan facing the view, while the garages which are perpendicular project out to frame the entry and form an entry motor court. I placed a large circular drive on the center line of the main house entry and garage doors and at the center a water feature.
Off the rear of the main wing is a stone terrace running the entire length which is partially covered with an overhead trellis. The eastern edge is bordered by a reflecting pool which also runs the entire length. At each end I stepped down the terrace to provide an area for spa and outdoor fire pit.
As a concept and I suppose optional feature, I extended the spine literally out into the landscape. At the master bedroom I imagined a covered pergola type structure which might be partially enclosed perhaps serving as meditation or yoga space. At the opposite end the spine continues through the guest wing and again out to contain a second more open air pergola for a spot to enjoy views to the south. [You could in fact eliminate this element and the bedroom on the end could occupy the full width of the wing.]
My goal was to create a sprawling desert house that reached out the view and landscape. I think, and I hope you agree, that the house appears much larger than its somewhat modest size.
MAIN WING 40 x 35 1,400 SF
MASTER WING 35 x 15 525 SF
GUEST WING 35 x 15)2 1,050 SF
CONNECTORS* VARIES 450 SF
TOTAL 3,425 SF
[*plus bays and stair tower]
Leave your comment below.