Richard Meier & Partners Architects LLP

Santa Ynez House

Santa Ynez, California

1999 - 2003

Perched on the foothills of the coastal mountains that form the Santa Ynez Valley, this house recognizes the language of local building typologies updated with a modern, site-specific approach.

The site is accessed by a private, 1-kilometer drive through a small arroyo that gradually winds uphill. The house appears around a bend, imbedded in the earth on an elliptical earthen plinth. The drive continues to curve around the house, formalizing this elliptical ground plane.

A courtyard comprised of decomposed granite and several trees leads to the entry, which is highlighted by a trellised arcade leading to the front door. This arcade flanks one of two cleft-cut, stone walls made of local sandstone. The two parallel walls define the parti of the plan: site walls become building walls organizing the house into its public and private functions.

North of the first stone wall near the entry is the guest wing which is comprised of three bedrooms, two of which are on a lower split-level. Beyond the southern stonewall is the main bedroom wing with two master bedroom suites, a study, sitting rooms, and stairway access to the lower level.

The lower level contains a lounge room, a children’s bedroom, and storage and exercise rooms and provides access to the pool and gardens. The upper level bedrooms have high ceilings with clerestories, corner windows and small balconies, making good use of the eastern morning light and the beautiful, surrounding views.

Spanned by a curved form zinc roof at the heart of the house are located the living room, dining room, and family room. The view from these rooms showcases the view of the entire valley to the west, accented by a large, cantilevered brise soleil above an entertaining terrace. The painted curved wood ceiling reflects light from clerestories framed above the brise soleil structure. Views to the east include the entry courtyard, and the mountains beyond.

East of the family room is the service wing with kitchen, prep kitchen, pantry, laundry room and garage. This wing, along the second stone wall, forms the southern edge of the courtyard.

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