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Branch House / TOLO Architecture

Branch House / TOLO Architecture

© David Hartwell© David Hartwell© David Hartwell© David Hartwell+ 23

Montecito, United States
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© David Hartwell
© David Hartwell

Text description provided by the architects. The Branch House designed for a couple of avid art collectors, is located on a one-acre lot in the hills of Montecito. The property originally held a 1960’s Ranch House that followed the standard tropes of American suburbia: front yard dedicated to automobile and lawn, and a back yard disconnected from the house. The new house, arranged in the round, is conceived as a cluster of program volumes each with its own unique orientation to light and view. In addition to providing a primary view out to the landscape, each volume also has a skylight to offer a secondary natural light source and a view of the sky. An interstitial connecting-spine lined with glass was designed as the home’s main circulation spine and as a gallery to display art.

© David Hartwell
© David Hartwell
Floor Plan
Floor Plan
© David Hartwell
© David Hartwell

Demolishing the original ranch allowed us to restore the native Oak grove and return the earth to its natural grade. Working closely with an arborist, we built the new house within the Oaks. Where the building volumes came into close proximity to the Oak root zone we floated the house off the ground by means of concrete piles to protect the native trees.  New coastal live Oak trees and other native plants were added to promote future growth of the ecosystem around the house.

© David Hartwell
© David Hartwell

The main structure of Branch House is an exposed post and beam structure adjusted to the geometry of the house and comprised of engineered Laminated Veneer Lumber. This area of Southern California is known for its wildfires. In 2008, the Tea Fire destroyed many homes in the surrounding community. As a result, local building codes now prohibit the use of non-fire treated wood as an exterior cladding material. To address these code concerns (and the clients’ desire to live among the trees) the house was built with a wood interior structure and a fire-resistive exterior “armor” made of copper tiles. The copper skin was separated from the wood frame with a rain screen. The size and configuration of the copper tiling were tightly tailored to accommodate the segmented geometry of the room volumes.

© David Hartwell
© David Hartwell
Diagram 01
Diagram 01
© David Hartwell
© David Hartwell

Color and material also play an important role. The copper cladding is developing a patina that over time will further integrate the house into the Oak grove landscape. Much of the rest of the material palette was selected for its raw qualities: Oak doors, galvanized steel guard rails, Douglas fir ceilings, Oak cabinet doors, and concrete chimneys and flooring. The white walls of the gallery, on the other hand, were selected to accentuate the synthetic qualities of the owners’ contemporary art collection.

© David Hartwell
© David Hartwell
© David Hartwell
© David Hartwell

The “wet” volumes of the house (kitchen, powder room, and bathrooms) are distinguished from the other spaces by floor-to-ceiling, single-color, Heath Ceramic natural clay tile. The richly colored interiors add an element of surprise to the project. The skylight at each of these spaces brings in natural light, making it feel like you are inside a glazed vessel that is open to the sky.

© David Hartwell
© David Hartwell

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About this office
Cite: "Branch House / TOLO Architecture" 10 May 2021. ArchDaily. Accessed . <https://www.archdaily.com/961255/branch-house-tolo-architecture> ISSN 0719-8884
© David Hartwell

树状住宅,生态布局 / TOLO Architecture

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