Red Hill Studio ADU Marin County

Introduction –
A couple of artists left the suburbs to live and learn about seasonal shifts and natural processes. Their green building, an ADU in Sonoma County is a one room house that flexes with the needs of the day and allows them to live on their new property, to plant an orchard and to run sheep. On the site of a demolished farm-worker house, Red Hill Studio was positioned to maintain stewardship of the land by building within the disturbed area.

By turning a quiet face to the busy road, finding shelter from coastal winds and establishing friendly relations with trees, grass and sun, the architecture looks through a farmer’s eyes for materials and assembly.

Physical Context –
On the site of a demolished farm-worker house, Red Hill Studio was carefully positioned within the disturbed area of the former house rather than expanding into undeveloped terrain. The assets of the landscape are the mature oaks, the rolling hills covered with native grasses, the change of sunlight and fog patterns throughout the week and the remnant water tank and chicken coop from earlier times.

The studio’s orientation was driven by five factors – tree protection, solar access, noise, wind and privacy. All factors were accommodated within the bounds of the previous homesite with fine tuning throughout design and construction.

The importance of where to best hunker down was born during the first client meeting that was blasted by this coastal wind from the Petaluma Gap. The Petaluma Gap is a low point from the coast to east of Highway 101 that is essentially a coastal wind tunnel that cools the low lands and blows in the coastal fog from the Pacific Ocean and Bodega Bay.

If the house could be a wind break, it could also be a noise barrier and a visual screen from road activities. There could be a private world from the house and patio looking southeast to southwest and all country – no cars, no pavement.

Design Objectives –
The program was a to design a 760 square foot studio housing an office space, a living area, and dining for 8 with room for a murphy bed. Downstairs is a garage, laundry and storage. Simplicity was always on the minds of the design team, but there arose an opportunity for a little shift.

Above the entry stair, the roof extends like the brim of a cap to protect the entry sequence from the concrete stair to the front door. The cedar structure and the underside of metal roofing material is exposed. The gutter runs past the edge of the roofing for another 4 feet that shoots an arc of rainwater.

The simple form and material palette has the effect that the structure has always been there.
With tight details and clad in corrugated metal, metal windows and a board formed concrete garage below, Red Hill Studio is formed into the hillside and nestled between oak trees. The curved patio softens the connection to the uphill grasslands. Deserving of regard, an oak grove and a moss-covered chicken coop informed the window placement.

Read more about Red Hill Studio here.

Petaluma, Sonoma County, CA

ADU / Residential Design

2018 AIA Redwood Empire Honor Award for Residential Design.

Photography: The Morrisons