Inherent in the creation of a retreat are concepts of privacy, safety, and refuge. In this private space away from the frenetic rhythms of the everyday, it becomes possible to relax, to reconnect with oneself and the natural environment. Through this separation from the everyday is achieved a deeper understanding of the self and the surroundings. This retreat seeks to foster self-discovery, not only by its many protective layers that invoke a sense of privacy, but also by letting the inhabited space dissolve away, leaving the inhabitant and nature to become reacquainted.
Located on ten acres of rolling hillside above the town of Sonoma, California, this private retreat is a freestanding structure adjacent to an existing rammed-earth house. It accommodates meditation, exercise, and yoga, and includes a steam room, changing rooms, bathroom, refreshment bar, private sundeck, and an outdoor shower. Partially hidden amid a grove of oaks, manzanita, and madrone, two curved earthen walls gently carve into the landscape to create the entry to the intimate retreat below. Topography, orientation, and landscape are all considered in the choreography of experience, heightening one’s sense of discovery, privacy, and ultimately the serenity of escape.
The building’s form is defined by a collection of simple rustic cedar boxes that provide a counterpoint to the surrounding landscape. These boxes define and anchor the contiguous spaces while they create apertures that act as the entry to the retreat and outdoor shower. The rectilinear forms are in turn cradled by the curving walls, which allow the resultant space to burrow into the earth. A wood deck of reclaimed teak extends the interior space out into the landscape, obscuring the borders between inside and outside. The building’s siting and configuration use its mass and the natural topography to screen the retreat from the existing house while retaining panoramic views to the southeast. A canopy of cantilevered lodge pole pine floats above the roof, providing much-needed shade to the southern face of the building and its sundeck. Trees to the south provide additional dappled shade, at times opening to reveal the nearby foothills and views of San Francisco beyond.
The retreat was carefully sited among the existing trees to minimize the building’s impact on the trees’ fragile root network while also taking advantage of the shade they provide. Deep roof overhangs allow solar heat gain in the winter and provide shade from the intense California sun during the summer. The curved board-formed concrete walls also aid in regulating temperature by providing additional thermal ballast that helps to maintain the interior temperature. When weather permits, the entire south and east glazed fa?ades slide away and completely retract into the walls. This facilitates airflow through the building and eliminates the need for conditioned air. A solar photovoltaic array provides additional offset to the structure’s energy loads. The building’s cedar skin is constructed as a rain screen and deters the capillary action found in typical construction. This allows the building to breath, ultimately leading to greater longevity.
设计单位：Aidlin Darling Design
承包商：Burlington Construction Inc.
结构工程师：Berkeley Structural Design
土木工程师：Lescure Engineers Inc.
Architect:Aidlin Darling Design
Contractor:Burlington Construction Inc.
Structural Engineer:Berkeley Structural Design
Civil Engineer:Lescure Engineers Inc.
Landscape Design / Build:June King