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Feldman intended for the architecture to speak softly, as a quiet intervention in the landscape. The design is understated but warm, and preserves the natural feel of the site.
The clients are “creative and passionate people with a deep appreciation of where they live," Hook says. Everything from the roofline to the material choices has a cheery lightness meant to reflect the personalities of the owners.
Inside the first cabin, which serves as a private yoga studio, the entire south wall opens to the hillside, embracing the trees and sunshine.
Located on a southeast-facing slope, the cabins receive the sun’s first rays in the morning. “In earth-based cultures, East is considered a place of inspiration," Hook says. "What better place to locate an art and writing studio?”
The upper cabin serves as a painting studio.
Hook applied aspects of Mill Valley’s Mount Tamalpais to her design. From the vegetation of the mountain to the boulder-strewn terrain, the overall site reflects the flora of the mountain and Marin as a whole.
“I take an educated and intuitive approach to the systems at play, whether it’s soils, slopes, grand trees or remarkable vegetation, or the orientation to the sun,” Hook says. “I see the roof as a microcosm of the slopes of Mount Tam. The design became a living mosaic, representing the variety of plants and plant communities on Mount Tam.”
The roof's role in both the landscape and architecture of the site and design is a unique aspect of this project. Because of the necessary terracing, the roof of the lower cabin (the yoga studio), is the initial site experience.
The green roof is really the curb appeal of the property — the first facade of the design. Hook took this opportunity to treat the roof as a canvas, more so than a typical green roof, and designed it as a living piece of art, full of succulents and other plants found throughout the project.
Navigating and accessing the 20-foot grade change of the property proved to be Hook’s primary challenge. Extensive grading was something neither the designers nor the homeowners wanted for the site, and meant that little space would be left to design an actual garden. “The opportunities and constraints of a project, though sometimes in opposition, are often the driving forces of the design,” Hook says.
For a project with such extensive architectural and structural components, the natural landscape and terrain of the site played a remarkably significant role. The prominence of the green roofs and the insertion of the buildings into the landscape emphasize that in this design, the landscape remains the focus. The thoughtful and seemingly understated execution on both landscape and architecture leaves Feldman content with the “integrated, respectful, subservient and quiet” architecture of the cabins, and Hook hoping that with each trip, visitors to the site will “walk away satiated with nature’s beauty and their place within it.”
Photography by Joe Fletcher
General Contractor: JP Builders, Inc.
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