Atelier Jorgensen Places California’s Remote Home “On the Edge of Civilization”

an outpost at the edge of the forest

Designed by Atelier Jorgensen, this secluded spot residence in Napa, California, was commissioned by clients Buttons and Ridgie Barton after their original weekend home was destroyed by a wildfire. Nestled into the hillside of Mount Veeder, the dwelling is shrouded in a deep shadowy shell of corrugated steel that involuntarily reflects the charred redwoods that surround it.

The design is comprised of a two-story cube with a parabolic roof and an off-center entry courtyard, an element reminiscent of Buttons and Ridgie’s former home. Reached by a steep, winding driveway, residents enter the house from the west side, where an angular facade is fashioned to guide the eye to the front door and the view of the forest beyond.

picture by Joe Flecher

Low and almost completely solid, this is the “utility” side of the house, containing the pantry, the laundry room, the cloakroom and the services. There are also two-bedroom suites tucked into the northwest corners. The opposite end of the house projects 9 meters higher and is articulated by floor-to-ceiling glass walls. Here you will find an open plan kitchen and dining area and a double height living area.

The architect said, “The living room is designed so that when one stands or sits inside the space, the ceiling is not perceived in one’s peripheral vision, thus giving the impression that you are in this fore- post at the edge of the forest, there to enjoy the beauty of the falcons soaring above the vineyards below and the surrounding forest.

From the living space, residents can also see the master bedroom loft upstairs, which includes a walk-in closet and en-suite shower room.

jorgensen workshop
picture by Douglas Friedman

When it comes to material choices, the dark exterior cladding gives way to warm and welcoming interiors finished in light Russian birch nautical plywood. Untreated, nautical grade plywood is meant to withstand the scuffs and scratches of everyday life. The warm wood continues throughout all the rooms of the house, except for the bathrooms, where aqua-colored tiles have been laid. Reclaimed maple was specified for the floors to provide a subtle contrast to the plywood.

Perhaps due to the site’s wildfire scars, Atelier Jorgensen carefully considered the importance of rain in the design. A dark yellow steel canopy signals the glass front door and “sings” in the rain. “They resonate like a tuning fork and remind residents of the importance of rain,” said the architect. The system also includes a rainwater collection system and a water storage tank for dry days.

‘The outpost is self-sufficient as an outpost should be, both in terms of physical and emotional demands. Located on the outskirts of civilization where there is no quick response for help in an emergency, the next fire that arises will pass by, leaving the outpost as the lone sentry, on guard. . Designed for the Advancement of Enlightenment,’ summarizes Atelier Jorgensen.

jorgensen workshop
photo by Douglas Friedman

jorgensen workshop
photo by Douglas Friedman

jorgensen workshop
photo by Douglas Friedman

Atelier Jorgensen Places Remote California Residence 'On the Edge of Civilization'
photo of Joe Fletcher