Fall House | Big Sur, CA

A 3800 sqft home, featuring a cantilever and sweeping ocean views. +

This three-bedroom vacation home on Big Sur's spectacular south coast is anchored in the natural beauty and power of the California landscape. Our design embeds the building within the land, creating a structure that is inseparable from its context. The site, which features a 250-foot drop to the Pacific Ocean along the bluff and toward the west, offers dramatic views. Yet it demands a more complex form than a giant picture window.

The long, thin volume of the house conforms to the natural contours of the land and the geometries of the bluff, deforming its shape and structure in response, much like the banana slug native to the region's seaside forests. In this way, the complex structural system applies natural forms to accommodate the siting. The main bearing system of the house is set back twelve feet from the bluff, both to protect the cliff's delicate ecosystem and to ensure the structure's integrity and safety. The house itself is cantilevered over the bluff. The interior is a shelter, an elegant refuge in contrast with the roughness and immense scale of the ocean and cliff.

The main body of the house is composed of two rectangular boxes connected by an all-glass library/den. A one-story concrete wing perpendicular to the main volume holds the ground-floor bedrooms and features a green roof; it is the boulder that locks the house to the land. The lower of the two main volumes, a double-cantilevered master bedroom suite, acts as a promontory above the ocean, offering breathtaking views from its floor-to-ceiling windows. The upper volume is an open-plan space-kitchen, living room, and dining room-with a swooping ceiling, all clad in wood, that follows the shape of the land.

The house's two main façades express both shelter and exposure. On the north, clear expanses of glass reveal ocean and coastline views; long strips of translucent channel glass dapple the light, playing on the sea's shimmering surface. The south façade, clad in copper, which wraps over the roof, is mostly enclosed, offering a retreat from the forces of nature. Roof overhangs on the east and west protect the windows and the front door from the harshness of sun and wind.

  • Awards:
  • 2015 California Home and Design Award for Residential Architecture
  • 2015 Architect's Newspaper Best of Design Award
  • 2014 Chicago Athenaeum American Architecture Award
  • 2014 Grand Prix of Real Estate Award
  • 2014 Architectural Record - Record Homes
  • 2014 Builder's Choice and Custom Home Design Award
  • 2014 Custom Home Design Award
  • 2014 AIA Small Project Awards
  • 2014 Special Mention in the Architizer A+ Awards
  • 2013 AIA CC Excellence in Architecture Merit Award
  • Press:
  • 2016/08 World Architecture News
  • 2016/08 Dezeen
  • 2016/07 Embark Home and Decor
  • 2015/10 Retreat: The Modern House in Nature, Book
  • 2015/03 Vidro Impresso Brazil
  • 2015/01 Revista CASAS
  • 2015/06 Wohnrevue
  • 2015/03 California Home + Design
  • 2015/01 The East Architect's Newspaper
  • 2014/08 Architectural Digest
  • 2014/08 Architectural Knowledge Magazine 建筑知识
  • 2014/09 The Plan
  • 2014/06 Design Today
  • 2014/05 The West Architect's Newspaper
  • 2014/04 Houzz Tour
  • 2014/04 Architectural Record: Record Houses, Cover
  • 2011/08 Houzz Tour