Situated in a suburban development and on the site of a former quarry, the Watershed Residence is a site-responsive design that echoes the land formation of a rocky hillside property in Napa Valley. Conceived as three cascading roofs set harmoniously in the landscape, each volume is rotated to optimize for views toward Mount Tamalpais.
Anchored into steep terrain, the solid volumes offer private family spaces and areas of respite. The masonry walls are a study in patterns and textures featuring locally-made compressed earth blocks, a sustainable building material using recycled aggregate with reduced cement content. Integral to the structures is a band of operable clerestory windows that separates the masonry walls from the roof, giving the appearance of floating effortlessly.
The main living space bridges across the masonry volumes, and is set cantilevering over a natural gully. Designed to allow seasonal rainwater to flow through a rock garden swale underneath this steel-and-glass structure, the captured rainwater sustains a native Californian landscape of manzanita, madrones, and coastal live oaks. Large sliding doors open onto a wraparound front porch, with reclaimed redwood flooring and decking that extends the living area and connect the family to the larger landscape beyond. A simple material palette of glass, steel, earth block, and reclaimed redwood is elevated through minimalist detailing.
Architecture: Juliet Hsu, Atelier Hsu
Builder: Rammed Earth Works
Civil: Applied Civil Engineering, Inc.
Geotech: Phoenix Geotechnical
Structural: Kevin Donahue Structural Engineer
Photographer: Mark Luthringer