Sonoma Farmhaus

Architecture Firm(s): SkB Architects

Location: Graton, California

Category: One- and two-family custom residences (category one)

skbarchitects.com
Drawing from the agrarian vocabulary of the adjacent farm structures while retaining the scale of neighboring properties, the home is a friendly compound, where speaces between structures are intended to be shared and host gatherings.

Situated in the small town of Graton, California, this home accommodates the owner’s request to be near Sonoma County’s picturesque cycling routes and a tight-knit community. Designed for a cycling enthusiast with a globally demanding career, it consists of two forms, a main house and a guest house that doubles as a bike barn. Its farmhouse evokes notions of sustenance and community, and its simplicity and restraint clearly emerge as the overarching themes.

With significant experience in commercial development, the client had an appreciation for the design process was an integral part of the design team. When not in Seattle, Chicago, San Francisco, or other locations around the world, the client views cycling and spending time with friends—also avid cyclists—as their two greatest passions. To create a true refuge from the demands of the client’s career, the team paired the home’s main volumes with a central outdoor gathering space that is anchored by a fireplace and community table made of reclaimed redwood.

The interior spaces are open, with little distinction between public and private spaces. In the main house, the kitchen and dining area, living room, and master bedroom flow freely as one contiguous space. Only steel-clad casework and a two-sided fireplace separate the living room from the master bedroom. Connections to the outdoor spaces throughout, both visually and physically, drive the experience.

“This home is elegant,” noted one juror. “It's restraint in terms of square footage, use of materials, and site disturbance create a refined language that carries consistently throughout the small complex. The interior and exterior spaces blend, and the humanity of each are inviting.”

The site is located on the fringes of residential and agricultural zones, and an easy consensus was reached to rely on materials that echoed the surrounding terrain. The exteriors—steel roofing, glass, fiber cement panels, and walls of earth blocks fabricated from the soil on site—allow the home to retain coloration akin to the landscape. Drawing from the agrarian vocabulary of the adjacent farm structures while retaining the scale of neighboring properties, the home is a friendly compound, where spaces between structures are intended to be shared and host gatherings.

Though self-financed with sporadically available funds, the home conforms to California’s stringent CALGreen building code requirements. The earthen blocks were an inherently sustainable construction material, fabricated just 50 miles away. Their mass and location on either end of both main volumes help regulate the interior temperatures year-round. Operable walls and garage doors that allow for continual cross-ventilation are coupled with the strategic placement of ceiling fans, allowing for comfortable temperatures without the need for supplemental cooling.

Additional information

 General  Contractor: Ironwood Builders

Engineer - Structural: Level Structural Engineering

Engineer - Civil: Little Engineering

Engineer - MEP: design/build

Permit Coordination: Morse &  Cleaver Architects  

Landscape Architect: Morf | Chang, Terramoto

Consultant - Energy: SOLDATA Energy Consulting, Inc.

Consultant  - Rammed Earth Block: Watershed Materials

Jury

Emily Roush-Elliott, AIA (Jury Chair), Delta Design Build Workshop, Greenwood, Mississippi

Valarie D. Franklin, AIA, NOMA, NCARB, Gresham Smith, Nashville, Tennessee

Michael E. Willis, FAIA, NOMA, Oakland, California

Guido Hartray, AIA, Marvel Architects, New York, New York

S. Claire Conroy, AIA Allied Member, SOLA Group Inc., Chicago, Illinois

Image credits

Sonoma Farmhaus

Suzanna Scott

Sonoma Farmhaus

Hannah Rankin

Sonoma Farmhaus

Hannah Rankin

Sonoma Farmhaus

Suzanna Scott

Sonoma Farmhaus

Suzanna Scott