Location: Ojai, California

Client: Private Owner

This 5,000 square foot house sits on a 12 acre low-lying meadow surrounded on two sides by creeks which stream from the Los Padres National Forest into the nearby Ventura River. Entered through a private gate and a bridge over the creeks, the supremely secluded property is surrounded by some two hundred native oaks. Positioned alongside one of the creeks, the long axis of the house follows a cardinal north / south orientation. Approached from the west, a stark 300 foot long Corten steel wall with narrow and deeply framed window bands admits natural light into interior rooms. Inside, a long floor-to-ceiling glass wall dramatically opens the house to a pool deck, stone planters with native flowers and an adjacent oak grove.

The expansive living area is column-free, with the ceiling hung between two massive board-formed concrete walls. The Douglas Fir ceiling is open and naturally ventilated through an automated clerestory system and produces changing patterns of light on the interior. On one side of the living area, a depression in the floor defines the seating area around a hearth sheathed in silver travertine while on the other side, a small rise in the floor creates a stage upon which sits a concert grand piano. Floors throughout the common areas of the house are polished concrete with steps lined in native flagstones.

Sustainable elements of the house include the exterior wall assembly that has been designed as a rain-screen system to provide a high level of thermal insulation. The roof houses a large photovoltaic solar array as well as a rain collection system for gray water irrigation. In addition, select floors contain radiant cooling and heating.

The rear yard is paved in natural flagstones with a 25 meter pool, outdoor fireplace and kitchen complete with wood-burning grill and pizza oven. Stone planters contain native plant species with a flower, herb and produce garden adjacent to the kitchen. The house is framed by a peach orchard to the north and an apricot orchard to the south, extending the long lines of the house out into the natural landscape beyond.