by Jerry ElengicalSep 17, 2022
Designed to withstand forest fires and heavy snowfall, Forest House conceived by American architectural firm, Faulkner Architects, sits tranquil and secluded within a luxuriant forest of Jeffrey, sugar pine, white and red fir trees, in a naturally gorgeous setting. Sitting as a low rectangular volume of concrete, steel and coloured reflective glass, Forest House is placed to minimise its impact on site, leaving a three-dimensional screen of 115 trees reaching heights of almost 27 metres, encircling it.
The gently sloped, scenic site covers an area of two acres and sits roughly 1,920 metres above sea level in Truckee’s Martis Valley near the north shore of Lake Tahoe in California, United States. The four-bedroom residential design is realised across 418 sqm divided into two levels; one of the bedrooms is placed on the ground level, accompanied by social and private areas. A staircase placed near the entry here leads to the smaller, upper level that hosts three sleeping quarters and a covered deck.
The San Francisco-based firm shares that Forest House references the texture and function of the bark of adjacent trees in its rainscreen that boasts of an ebonised surface. Built of three-by-three-inch angles spaced an inch apart, the steel rainscreen protects the vulnerable wood-framed portions of the dwelling from the elements and wildfire “like a large spark arrestor".
The elongated south-facing rectangle amasses solar energy during winters. The residential architecture is also fitted with radiant heat and enhanced glazing, mechanical electrical equipment, as well as insulation. “Low maintenance contributes to sustainability,” they state matter-of-factly.
The north is marked by the entrance accessed by a long pathway that rests parallel to the volume. Here, one encounters a translucent, frog green glass screen on a recessed front door, echoing the tone of the surrounding evergreen forest, and bathing the entry in a warm lime-yellow radiance. “Materiality and fenestration are ordered as dark light reversals that repeat the behaviour of the forest. A concealed, directional entry builds time into the arrival sequence, extending and connecting the experience to the environment. Movement in route to the entry point, parallel with the form, allows association with the dwelling prior to entering,” says Gregory Faulkner, principal architect of Faulkner Architects.
The open-plan living and dining room on the ground floor open to a covered deck that floats just above the ground, sans railings, through the south-facing sliding glass doors. This level also hosts the kitchen that flows into a cosy family room, a study and garage in the east corner as well as a master suite and a covered deck that is shaded from harsh sunlight and snow. “A modern fireplace with polished galvanised steel panels reflects the rest of the room and the inhabitants’ movements,” shares the studio.
The interior design follows an open and airy layout, filled with optimum, beige furniture and décor that reflects the woods. Consistent materials such as cut basalt stone floors, unfinished reclaimed teak ceilings and floors, board-formed concrete, and white gypsum lend the dwelling a uniform, cosy and contemporary tone.
Light fixtures and fire sprinklers are concealed impeccably with continuous recesses in the ceilings. The sleek and dusky exterior skin is given relief via distinct three-dimensional skylights that wrap down from the roof to the wall, flooding daylight into the interiors and framing the starry skies at night.
The unambiguous architecture of Forest House, softened by its use of custom skylights, pops of coloured glass and an earthy décor, translates into a delightfully refined residence that borrows and opens itself to its scenic woodland environment.
Name: Forest House
Location: Truckee, California, United States
Area: 418.06 sqm
Architect: Faulkner Architects
Principal Architect: Gregory Faulkner
Project Manager: Breanne Penrod
Contractor: Glennwood Mountain Homes
Interior Designer: Rory Torrigiani, Natalie Zirbel
Civil Engineer: Shaw Engineering
Structural Engineer: CFBR Structural Group
Mechanical Engineer: Sugarpine Engineering
Electrical Engineer: Sugarpine Engineering
Geotechnical Engineer: NV5
Lighting: Faulkner Architects