21 June 2017
We are in the Bay Area of San Francisco, in Sonoma Country, and to be precise at Healdsburg, one of the capitals of the Californian wine industry. It is here, in a valley filled with oak and bay trees, that stands the house designed by the Malcolm Davis studio, dubbed Camp Baird. A twenty-minute drive along a dirt road takes you to an unspoiled location where there is not even a signal for the cellphone: anyone who chooses to live here, or just spend the weekend, has to enjoy isolation, being in contact with nature and outdoor activities. The house’s design is perfectly in keeping with such a lifestyle. The studio has located two volumes on the site, both of them inspired by the tradition of rural Californian architecture: the house proper, which has an L-shaped plan, and a smaller building for vehicles and equipment. In line with local custom, the main material is wood (used for the supporting structures, the decks and part of the flooring inside), to which Cor-Ten steel has been added for the walls and corrugated sheets of galvanized metal for the roof, which serve to disperse heat and reduce the risk of fire. The living area of the house is made up of three multi-functional spaces, well exposed to the sun, that are located at each end of an open central porch and face onto a long swimming pool: each has a wall consisting of a floor-to-ceiling glass panel that can be opened with a sliding system similar to the one used for barn doors. In this way, the boundaries between inside and outside have been erased and all the activities that are carried out in the house are flooded with natural light and accompanied by views of the surroundings. The structure is completed by a concrete fireplace and outdoor showers.