Canopy House

An ecologically diverse flag lot in Portola Valley served as inspiration for the responsive design of Canopy House. The site is a natural bowl, a large flat meadow flanked on two sides by a lush creek and on the other two by a sloping hill, creating a private, immersive geography. The clients, a dynamic couple with small children, envisioned a site-sensitive design that is elevated, modern, cozy, and unassuming, but most importantly intimately connected to the surrounding landscape.

Working closely with the landscape team, Ground Studio, we first conducted an in-depth site analysis of the property, crafting a plan to restore and rehabilitate the unmanaged landscape. To best restore the natural meadow, we will clear the existing invasive species allowing the new design to react organically to the intricate site.

The design consists of layered, interlocking, mirrored L-shaped forms that carefully frame the front yard entry moment, as well as a rear yard panorama. The airy ground floor flows directly into outdoor living areas – an open plan public great room, dining area, and kitchen and a protected exterior seating space create architectural thresholds, compressing and decompressing, mimicking the site’s natural rhythms. The upper level acts as a canopy; an elevated form that floats above landscape moments below, like a tree, casting dappled light and outdoor shading. The upper level sits nested among the surrounding trees, creating intimacy for bedrooms. The pool, at the rear of the site, stretches away from the structures into the meadow creating a sensation of floating out into the open meadow.

Further in harmony with the site, the structure is oriented 15 degrees of south, optimally exposed to control solar heat gain, and wind ventilation for passive cooling. The ground level is cooled by a stack effect, in which warm air is pulled out and expelled through a vertical double height atrium.

LOCATION Portola Valley, California

Landscape Architecture: Ground Studio
Interior Design: Leverone Design
Lighting Design: Studio Lumen
Structural Engineers: ZFA Structural Engineers
Civil Engineers: Lea & Braze Engineering Inc