A Northern California retreat immerses into the landscape with the guidance of shadow and light.
“Don’t hurt the boulders,” the team at Faulkner Architects was told by their client, a New York City–based AIDS researcher who had recently sought out to create a restorative family getaway in Truckee, California.
Taking the request to heart, the architects were able to construct the home in total deference to the site’s existing rocks, and without compromising the design in the least, every single boulder was left in its original place.
Set on a dramatic edge of an evergreen forest where a spring-fed creek meets the base of an ancient volcano, the home is cantilevered out over several of the boulders, and seems to barely even touch the actual site.
Although privacy was one of the main priorities of the design, along with meeting the needs of the client’s multigenerational family, the thoughtful architecture was also inspired by Junichiro Tanizaki’s essay In Praise of Shadow. On the interior, dark alcoves transition to sunlit spaces, while steel and rift-sawn oak create shadows that bring contrast to the concrete, bluestone, and white gypsum walls—all illuminated by natural light.