Create an ideabook for your next remodeling project!
Browse more than 1,000,000 photos from top designers and save your favorites
The Willits Compound is a U-shaped plan, made up of three rectangular buildings about a courtyard. In this view from the north we see the garage on the left, the living space and master suite in the middle, and the bedrooms on the right. In the middle of the space in between these three structures is a large boulder, what became an organizing device for the house.
This overall view of the Willits Compound makes the U-shaped plan abundantly clear. Though bathed in a snowstorm, the exterior walkways that link the three buildings are also apparent. Each structure serves as a windbreak, making the courtyard a usable space in an environment that veers between cold, windy and hot.
The native grasslands give the house a distinctive context. The greens and browns of the landscape pointed to a complementary exterior palette, most notably the vermillion stucco walls.
The other materials are evident in the approach to the parking court. (The courtyard with rock is to the right of the wall.) The stucco is accompanied by wainscot walls of Choctaw sandstone and steel gray standing-seam metal roofs. Surprisingly, Wilson admits that "all along we intended to clad the entire building in Cor-Ten steel." As built, the house has a softer contrast with its surroundings and more variation than a single material would allow.
One of the reasons for choosing the outcropping as the center of the house was the moss covering the rock. Wilson calls it "a living garden" and admires the way the moss veers from verdant green to dormant russet color: "The narrative of the seasons passing is told each year on the face of this boulder." The gravel surface of the courtyard extends right up to the boulder, to intentionally recall a Zen rock garden.
This view toward the bedroom volume makes another reference clear: The covered walkways that link the three buildings are "reminiscent of an Old West street frontage," Wilson says.
Outside of the main courtyard, in the elbow between the garage and living spaces, is a smaller outdoor square centered on a pool. The large window on the right links this courtyard to an indoor pool adjacent to the garage.
To one side of the entry is the dining room, located under the master suite. With functions stacked at the ends of the central building, the scale of the spaces drops from what one encounters upon entering. Note the wood ceiling and more intimate scale to this space.
In many ways a detail can tell the whole story of a building. The Zen-like character of the main courtyard can be found in the column base detail and paving. In the former the simple steel connection exhibits the means of construction; in the latter the light and dark gray paving create a simple expression that is very well crafted. Note the texture of the paving and the way the dark gray strips are mitered at the column base.
Ultimately this detail shows an intersection that creates four quadrants. In three of them is the light gray paving, and in the fourth is the gravel. Like a microcosm of the compound, the gravel is the courtyard, and the paving are the buildings.
Houzz Tour: Breathtaking Prairie Home
Zen Gardens: Serene Outdoor Spaces
Houzz Tour: Stunning Berkeley Courtyard House