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Using the gentle slope of a 1.75-acre lot in Atherton, Butler Armsden embraced the rare opportunity to create a courtyard house that also looks outwardly onto commanding views of the surrounding wooded hills. The volumes of the house vary subtly in size, lending the building an intimate quality balanced by the sharpness of the long lines that define each volume. These lines are carried throughout by the architects’ material choices: wood siding, a standing-seam metal roof, and board-formed concrete landscape walls contrast respectfully with the natural lines of the site. Inside the house, a gallery runs from east to west, threading together generous spaces for living and dining. Just outside these, preserved oak trees native to the area provide shade as their branches and leaves interplay with light. The courtyard’s scale creates a space for both recreation and introspection, while the outdoor patio offers spectacular landscape views back over the courtyard and to the coastal range beyond, creating two distinct ways of relating to the land. The feeling is one of being in a town square; the courtyard is almost a pasture in the middle of the house.

Photographer
Bernard Andre