The house is located within great surroundings, on Wolfback Ridge Road, in Sausalito, California. The south-facing ridge top site abuts the GGNRA, and is a gently sloping swale with panoramic views from east to west including the East Bay hills, the city of San Francisco, Golden Gate Bridge, Marin Headlands, and the Pacific Ocean. The site flows into the natural habitat of the Headlands, and affords maximum solar exposure, bracing maritime breezes and cloaking fogs.
The architects designed the house to feel as if it has always been there, the Final(ly) House atop Wolfback Ridge is precisely executed for its owners and its unique site. The universally accessible design reconciles the need for a flat house on a sloping site, meeting the needs of the owners who are nearing ninety years of age. Minimal and honest expression of materials and speed and simplicity of construction result in a modern form clad in a combination of glass and 100 year-old locally reclaimed redwood, and topped with a living roof. Green elements are integral to the overall design principles and ultimate expression of the house
For a site with such expansive views, and owners with potentially limited future mobility, a variety of both visual and physical connections between inside and out is essential. The house is designed with both exposed and sheltered outdoor spaces and views, so that the owners maintain connections to the site in any weather or any state of health.
A sheltered courtyard (a feature coveted by longtime neighbors) is created by a double-walled retractable glass passageway, which mediates the conflict between the expansive views and southern sun that face directly into stiff ocean winds sweeping over the exposed crest.
Panoramic (blue) views are complemented by the intimacy and connection of carefully framed near landscape (green) views all around the house. This contrast is especially welcome on a site where unlimited visibility abruptly gives way to enveloping fog.
The house is at once intimate and vast. The structure is rooted in the earth on the north side by exposed board-formed concrete walls framing green views.
The building gradually dissipates southward into the expanse of the distant parkland blue views as the materials lighten into a continuous floor-to-ceiling sliding glass curtain wall leading to a delicately railed cantilevered deck beyond. The exposed rhythmic post-and-beam structure unites the house, forming a trellis supporting the living roof.
The exposed steel span of the glass passageway, as well as railings and gates, are painted to match the Golden Gate Bridge.
The house is set at the optimal height with respect to the land so no stairs are needed to enter or circulate in the house or outdoor spaces. ADA clearances and transitions are maintained throughout. The downslope side is low enough to maintain close connection to the landscape, while the upslope cut solidly anchors the structure in the earth while still keeping a light, open feeling.
Because of the house’s low flat profile and its siting in a swale, the green roof is visible from either approach. The roof matches the surroundings in all seasons because it has been sown only with seeds native to this micro-climate of the ridge, as identified by the GGNRA biologist. The house’s narrow plan and transparency of structure generously combine to allow neighbors views to the panorama beyond even from the road.
Green features were integrated into the design. Here is a list for some of them.
- Living roof
- High efficiency PV panels (2.5kW) - FSC-certified wood
- Reclaimed local 100 year-old redwood siding
- Cork flooring throughout
- Fly ash concrete
- Optimal passive solar orientation
- Southern brise-soleil
- Radiant heating
- No air conditioning / natural ventilation
- High efficiency boiler + tankless heater
- Low-e insulated glazing
- Energy Star appliances
- Ultra-low flow WCs
- Low V.O.C. finishes
- No carpeting
- Minimal site disturbance
- Leach field waste water system
- Pervious paving
- Dissipater to prevent concentrated rainwater runoff
- Micro-climate native palette for all landscaping