Zinfandel residence, St. Helena, California. Field Architecture.
“When a young couple with a growing family wanted to take a step back from the city, they found an old vineyard parcel in Napa Valley that looks out towards the Mayacamas. On that site, Field Architecture designed a house that makes room for both small and large gatherings where the family can spend time connecting with the land and with one another. The property sits on the valley floor, the only vertical moment a line of tall trees in the northeast corner. Field nestled the home — designed as a family of structures — between the trees, leaving a courtyard space in the center and filling it with a luxuriously modern pool. A grand valley oak marks the central axis threading through the building.
The gable-ended structures work relationally to each other and the neighboring mountain and reference the agrarian history of the site, each roof supported by dark timber and steel trusses inspired by the property’s existing hay barn. Rich wood punctuates a sleek, airy interior, the deep contrast offering both textural structure and visual rhythm. The material palette oscillates between the modern and the traditional, shifting throughout the project. In the kitchen, the casework is conceived as a single block of wood inlaid into the cement column that bookends the living space, lit by the skylight above. Where wood columns outside punctuate a long, concrete landscape wall, notches blocked out in the concrete let a view of the landscape beyond drift through the space between materials.
Outside, the roof is finished with a thin slab of metal, gently creased at the ridge and allowed to spill down the edge in a continuous line. The metal meets the ground through gutters entirely integrated into the form, with downspouts set flush to the face of the building and a width that replaces just a single board of vertical siding. It’s a graceful move, but not a showpiece; Field wanted for all the details to come together as a backdrop to a cohesive identity.
An exciting intersection between modernism and vernacular design emerges from Field’s continual re-engagement with the spatial repercussions of the vernacular. Field framed the steeply sloped ceiling differently in each room of the house — from the skylight that disappears into the gable’s peak and floods the hearth with light, to the dramatic slice the ceiling takes through the hallway, where the roof reaches its resolution at exterior walls made of glass and steel. Light spills into the house from every side through the windows, which open the interior up to the courtyard and extend the home’s visual boundary out into the vineyard beyond.”
Photo credit: Joe Fletcher