Triple Barn House

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Mork-Ulnes Architects create a rusted three-roof residential home on the rural hillsides of Sonoma, California for a Chef and her family

Food, produce, nature, cooking, entertaining and retreat are important elements in the lifestyles of chef and food educator Hollie Greene Rottman and her husband Jim Rottman, Global Head of Diversity and Inclusion for a pharmaceutical company.

Their brief to their architects – Mork-Ulnes Architects https://morkulnes.com – was to create a home that would connect to nature, a place to entertain family and friends, and a retreat to re-energise and find tranquillity from their busy lives. The secluded location surrounded by countryside enabled the creation of a large vegetable garden. The couple also wanted a spacious professional styled kitchen, private master suite, two guest rooms, and a separate office.

The three-roof house uses materials that connect to the land and its agricultural setting

On 160 square metres overlooking panoramic views from the Sonoma Valley, the dream home with its triple roofed rusted steel form peeks over natural grasses and iron-red soil. The bold materials make a statement on the exterior, where corten steel brings out the building’s rural location and roots it into the iron-red rock landscape. Rough concrete at the base accentuates the agricultural nature of the setting.

The plan of the upper floor responds to the triple roof form of the house: one roof houses the public area of the kitchen and dining area as well as the outdoor kitchen and lounge, one roof contains the more private zone of the guest rooms and living room, and the third roof houses the private zone of the master suite. The lower concrete level contains the entry room and stair, laundry and storage room, carport / fire truck turnaround, and triangular office.

Guided to the front door through a large concrete void, and up the winding stairs to the main residence you are greeted with a stunning view of the valley from a large picture window. The stair lands in the middle of the public space of the house, with the kitchen and dining room on the north end and a long living room heading towards the private guest rooms and master suite.

The kitchen expands outdoors under a large cantilevered eave that creates a continuation of space with kitchen counter extending into the landscape with an outdoor bar and grilling area and outdoor living room. The glass facade in the living room opens to Sonoma Valley and its dramatic sunsets.

Rising Up from the Concrete Void

The 1750 square foot (160 square metre) home sits on a steep hillside in Sonoma overlooking panoramic views from the Sonoma Valley to Marin County. Approaching the house from a steep driveway, the visitor sees a triple roofed rusted steel form peeking out over natural grasses and iron-red soil. Arriving at the house, the guests are guided to the front door through the large concrete void.

From the lower entry, a dynamic winding stair brings you up through a concrete volume into the main residence where you are greeted with a stunning view of the valley from a large picture window. The stair lands in the middle of the public space of the house, with the kitchen and dining room on the north end and a long living room heading towards the private guest rooms and master suite.

The kitchen is expanded outdoors under a large cantilevered eave which creates a shaded respite from the hot Sonoma sun. The overhang creates a continuation space for the kitchen, as the kitchen counter extends into the landscape with an outdoor bar and grilling area and outdoor living room. The glass façade in the living room opens to Sonoma Valley, presenting the owners with sunsets: a perfect landscape for a dinner with friends or to enjoy a glass of wine at the end of a long day of work.

The outdoor space is a middle zone between the edible garden, and the fire pit under a large Oak tree on the hill above.

Interiors with open-plan simplicity for a casual feel

In contrast to the bold agricultural textures of the exterior, the interiors exude a lightness in white with furnishings of dusty sunbleached palette to keep the space bright and to show off the captivating views. To add warmth and tactility, Douglas Fir treated with lye and white oil is used on the floors and some cabinetry. The bathrooms in natural stone offer subtle luxury to country living.

The Materials

The most dominant and bold materials of the house are on the exterior, where corten steel reminds us of the building’s rural location and roots the building in the iron-red rock landscape, while rough concrete at the base accentuates the agricultural nature of the setting.

 “We chose corten steel as the cladding material for its natural resistance to fire as well as its resonance to agricultural buildings of the Sonoma Valley. The natural soil of the Sonoma hillside is very iron rich which gives it a rusted color making the house tie back to earth,” says Casper Mork-Ulnes.

In contrast, the interior was meant to have simple and bright materials to give

the house a casual atmosphere. All walls were kept white to keep the space bright and allow for the large windows to captivate with their views. To add warmth and tactility to the project, Douglas Fir treated with lye and white oil was used on the floors and some cabinetry. The bathrooms were clad in natural stone for a touch of subtle luxury giving the owners a feeling of retreat while enjoying daily life in the countryside.

The Plan

The plan of the upper floor responds to the triple roof form of the house: one roof houses the public area of the kitchen and dining area as well as the outdoor kitchen and lounge, one roof contains the more private zone of the guest rooms and living room, and the third roof houses the private zone of the master suite. The lower concrete level contains the entry room and stair, laundry and storage room, carport / fire truck turnaround, and triangular office.

The Architects and Designers

Mork-Ulnes Architects was founded in 2005 by Norwegian born Casper Mork-Ulnes, who was raised in Italy, Scotland and the United States. His roots in these various cultures have brought a broad perspective to his firm’s work. In 2015, Casper was named one of “California’s finest emerging talent” by the American Institute of Architects California Council. He was selected by the Norwegian National Museum as one of “the most noteworthy young architects in Norway” with the exhibit “Under 40. The architectural firm has offices in Oslo and San Francisco.

Story sourced by Carol Kraal. Photographs by Bruce Damonte. Information supplied by Image Media Agency.

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