this concrete guest house has been designed by san francisco- and oslo-based firm mork-ulnes architects to take advantage of northern california’s dramatic natural landscape. perched on a secluded hilltop surrounded by vineyards, the compact three-bedroom dwelling complements and extends an existing residential property. the use of board-formed concrete for project’s exteriors allows the home to establish a connection with the area’s history of wood construction.

mork-ulnes embeds concrete 'ridge house' into the landscape of northern california
all images by bruce damonte

 

 

‘the client requested a new guesthouse and accompanying pool area,’ explains casper mork-ulnes, principal of mork-ulnes architects. ‘because the site offers only a narrow strip of level ground, we chose to push the house out along the steep hillside in order maximize flat outdoor area.’ the owners also indicated their desire for a low-maintenance project constructed from robust, fire-resistant building materials.

mork-ulnes embeds concrete 'ridge house' into the landscape of northern california

 

 

to accommodate the separate guest suites, the building is composed of three distinct spaces. these volumes step down with the grade progressively, nesting into the site’s natural contours so that the mass of the building is softened into the hillside. a continuous, multi-gabled roof joins the discrete units into a coherent whole while its peaks and valleys echo the hills beyond.

mork-ulnes embeds concrete 'ridge house' into the landscape of northern california

 

 

after passing through the home’s heavy concrete walls, the space expands and offers a sense of openness thanks to floor-to-ceiling windows. these glazed enclosures present sweeping views of the picturesque scenery. the floor slabs, rooted in the hillside, float out over the steep ground below and lend each bedroom its own private view.

mork-ulnes embeds concrete 'ridge house' into the landscape of northern california

 

 

from an environmental standpoint, the solid concrete walls and roof shield the interior from the sun during the summer season, while the structure’s considerable thermal mass helps regulate the temperature throughout the year. the roof’s deep overhangs shade the outdoor terraces and underscore the continuousness of the indoor-outdoor space in each guest suite.

mork-ulnes embeds concrete 'ridge house' into the landscape of northern california

 

 

‘for us, it was important to experience both concrete’s sculptural, monolithic qualities and the openness that such a structure affords,’ says casper mork-ulnes. ‘the building appears solid, heavy, and grounded from the south and west frontages. it provides privacy for the guesthouses and shelter from southern and western solar exposure. upon entering, the building opens up dramatically. it feels light as it creates an unexpected intimacy with the landscape beyond.’

mork-ulnes embeds concrete 'ridge house' into the landscape of northern california

mork-ulnes embeds concrete 'ridge house' into the landscape of northern california

mork-ulnes embeds concrete 'ridge house' into the landscape of northern california

mork-ulnes embeds concrete 'ridge house' into the landscape of northern california

mork-ulnes embeds concrete 'ridge house' into the landscape of northern california

mork-ulnes embeds concrete 'ridge house' into the landscape of northern california

 

 

project info:

 

name: ridge house
location: sonoma county, california
architect: mork-ulnes architects
project design team: alicia hergenroeder, grygoriy ladigin, casper mork-ulnes, lexie mork-ulnes, kyle anderson, erling berg, phi phan, signe madsen, simon reseke, monika lipińska, kristina line

 

project consultants —
landscape architect: surface design, inc., roderick wyllie and michal kapitulnik
structural engineer: ZFA structural engineers, kevin zucco and drew fagent
civil engineer: adobe associates, tim schram
septic engineer: adobe associates, greg schram
interior decorator: the office of charles de lisle. charles de lisle and sasha lanka
building envelope consultant: neumann sloat arnold architects, amber antracoli
mechanical, electrical, and plumbing engineer: interface engineering
geotechnical engineer: RGH consultants, jared pratt
general contractor: nordby signature homes

 

project data —
site size: 18.43 acres
building footprint: 1,650 square feet
total conditioned area: 840 square feet
covered decks: 670 square feet
total cost: withheld

 

schedule —
schematic design start: september 2014
construction start: january 2016
construction completion: june 2018

 

photography: bruce damonte
press office: image MEDIA AGENCY