Montecito, California, USA
Designed by Los Angeles–based TOLO Architecture, The Branch House is located on a one acre-lot in the hills of Montecito.
The property originally held a 1960’s ranch house with native Coastal Live Oaks in the back yard.
The 4,400-square-foot single-family residence sits on a 1-acre site on a cul de sac.
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.
Demolishing the original ranch allowed the architects to restore the oak grove and return the earth to its natural grade.
Working closely with an arborist, the architects built the house within the oaks, floating the house off the ground by means of concrete piles.
In addition to providing a primary view out to the landscape, each room also has a skylight offering a view of the sky.
A circulation spine, lined with glass, doubles as a gallery for the owner’s extensive art collection.
Color and material also play an important role in the design.
The post and beam structure, comprised of engineered Laminated Veneer Lumber, is adjusted to the irregular geometry of the house.
A continuous concrete slab ties the volumes together at the floor plane.
The interior palette is simple, even stark: concrete floors, gypsum board walls and ceilings, and exposed laminated-veneer lumber joists in the corridors and other areas.
Richly colored kitchen and bathroom interiors, clad from floor to ceiling with single-color natural “Heath” clay tile, add an element of surprise to the project.
Meandering glass-lined hallways connect the volumes and act as galleries for the client’s art collection.
To address fire concerns, the house is built with a fire-resistive exterior “armor” made of copper tiles, which is separated from the wood frame with a rain screen.
The copper skin will develop a patina over time further integrating the house into the oak grove landscape.
Architects: TOLO Architecture
Design Team: Peter Tolkin, Jeremy Schacht, and Albert Escobar
Landscape Architects: Wade Graham Landscape Studio