Endemic Architecture

_Current Phase: Design Development
_Expected Construction: Fall 2023
_Work In Progress for a Ground-up residential project near Ione, California.
_Surveying by Lodestar Engineering & Surveying, Inc.
_On-Site Wastewater Treatment System Design by Cal State Engineering
_Private Client.

Situated on a rural hillside 10 miles south of Ione, California, the Country House is a commission (currently in Design Development) by a private client on a 1.5 acre site with complex topography, natural drainage patterns, and requiring a septic system with an anticipated construction start date in the fall of 2023. As a representational interest, the Country House explores concepts of the American purlieuwhile the formal strategy uses manipulations the conventional elements of then porch, chimney, and roof in an effort to foster an almost familiar quality.

Purlieu is a middle-English term used to describe landscapes which are neither fully cultivated nor completely wild, but rather some enigmatic in-between. The purlieu is often used in literary and cinematic works to elicit an emotional response to contextual circumstances. Consider Dorothy’s dreamscape journey in the Wizard of Oz as a land of enchantment and enlightenment (albeit with pockets of fear here and there) juxtaposed to Alfred Hitchcock’s repeated use of the farmhouse (ie, Psycho, The Birds, etc.) as a construct representing horror and anxiety in a remote setting. Thus, for those familiar with the purlieu, it is a space of comfort, enlightenment, and splendid wonderment, while for those unaccustomed to such rurality it can be a space of anxiety, isolation, and tension. The American purlieu is a space of contradictions; it is place where surrealism and politics, folk and technological sophistication, the avant garde and kitsch mix. The Country House, residing in such a context, looks to these conundrums and contradictions of the purlieu as a representational framework for situating an architectural project within a rural scene that oscillates between inviting and mysterious; between unambiguous and mysterious.  

The formal and spatial composition of the Country House introduces manipulations to the conventional elements of a farmhouse porch, roof, and chimney to further this almost familiar quality. Most expressively, the porch is conceived of as a subtractive void carved through the ground floor of the house creating a covered, wrap-thru porch that locates entrances, frames views, and creates the effect of a continuous landscape through the house. The white stucco walls of the carved porch contrast the timber façade to reveal the conceptual distinction between a tectonic assembly and a carved, or stereotomic, mass. The traditional side-gabled roof is also used in the Country House, however a planometric curve bends the house and roof to orient the kitchen and dining areas towards the western view while creating a symbolic connection between the bowed curve of the house and the swelled hills of the landscape. Perhaps the most subtle manipulation is to the chimney on the south-east side. The mass of the chimney sits squarely above the subtractive porch creating a tension between the two floors. On the second floor, the chimney form is punctured with a planter box and inset windows, yet it also serves to evacuate heat and create air circulation within the roof structure by incorporating an energy efficient whole-house fan located in upper portion of the chimney tower.

Because the site is roughly 50% within a flood zone, locating the house on the upper crest of the hill reduces flooding concerns while maximizing views to the rolling hills and two ponds beyond. Utilizing recycled timber for the rainscreen façade and incorporating a small, terraced garden where the owner’s will grow their own vegetables, as well as incorporating rainwater harvesting technologies add to environmental considerations in this house.

Copyright, Endemic Architecture 2022