Anacapa Architecture tucked a modern family home into the hills of Coastal California.
Project: Panoramic Coastal Ranch Location: Central Coast, California Completion: 2018 Size: 8,981 square feet Cost: $5,500,000 Lead Architect: Dan Weber, Anacapa Collaborating Architect: Steve Willson, Willson Design Engineer: Solid Structures Electrical Engineer: JMPE Electrical Engineering Contractor: Curtis Homes
Building a home in Coastal California is tough. The state’s environmental and green building standards are some of the strictest in the nation. But when you add in a client’s desire for seclusion, severe winds, and a hands-on community design review committee, the task becomes down-right daunting.
Dan Weber, founder and principal of Anacapa Architecture, answered the challenge of building a multi-generation family compound in Hollister Ranch by focusing on sweeping views, a big layout, and a minimized profile.
The private 15,000-acre working cattle ranch sits north of Santa Barbara, where it acts as a gated community and nature conservancy in which all of the community’s property owners participate. “It’s a bucolic, spread out community,” Weber says. “It’s a unique and special place to California where our clients wanted to build their dream home.”
Sitting on top of a mountain, buffeted by 80 mile per hour winds and edged by deep canyons and miles of coastal views, the property feels otherworldly. There Weber nestled his client’s dream—a three-building compound comprised of a main home, guest home, and barn—into the hillside. The earth’s insulation minimizes heating and cooling needs, while 12-foot floor-to-ceiling glass doors open to unobstructed views and offer breezy ventilation through the entire structure. The hillside was minimally graded to maintain natural runoff. Sloped roof panes return rainfall to the natural landscape beyond the structures and mimic the topography of the surrounding hills. The three spaces were finished with natural building materials and a distinctive asymmetrical style that complements the surrounding landscape.
“What we were really exploring was finding an architectural character for the property’s beautiful wide open hill instead of intruding,” Weber says. “We also wanted a style that felt appropriate to place. It’s a working cattle ranch on the coast, so the structure needs to speak to that.”
Weber’s clients wanted to create a home where generations of children and grandchildren could comfortably visit. The main house spans nearly 4,000 square feet with three bedrooms, five bathrooms, and ample entertaining spaces. “It’s pretty typical of a family-style home in California. We emphasized indoor/outdoor living, big glass to take advantage of views, and a plan for how the house could be used when extended family comes to visit.”
Even as the site offers panoramic Pacific Ocean views, the residence is nearly invisible to distant neighbors. “The reason people buy houses at Hollister Ranch is to be way out there on their own,” Weber says. “By setting the house back in the hill, you can’t look out and see neighbors, creating a sense of isolation in nature. You’re looking at the ocean and uninterrupted views.” At the same time, Weber knew his clients’ neighbors would be protective of their own privacy, too. Nestling the home within the existing topography helped. “We paid particular attention to lights. At night it could glow like a lantern, so we tried to shield neighbors from windows.”
The property’s roofs are some of the most unique aspects of the house and add to the privacy for the property owners and their neighbors. Tiered and slanted to mimic the surrounding topography, they also create covered overhangs to offer ample shaded outdoor living space.
“We wanted the house to feel at home on a ranch and in Coastal California,” Weber says. Anacapa focused on three exterior materials to create a natural look. Standing seam metal roofs are reminiscent of barn roofs throughout the area. Heavy timber natural fir columns placed at asymmetrical slants add to the home’s ranch feel, while clear-finish cedar siding and board-formed concrete will elegantly age even as they maintain durability. The property is finished with drought-tolerant landscaping.