Tōrō House is a renovation and addition to an existing single-family home. The home sits on a hillside marking the interface between a redwood forest grove to the east and a deciduous grove and meadow to the west.

Architect: Mark English Architects
Project Team:
Mark English
Greg Corbett
Landscape Architect: Ron Herman
Location: Woodside, CA
Client:  (Withheld)
Date of occupancy:  June 2014
Gross sq footage:
2563 sf Habitable
300 sf Garage
Site area: 29,310 s.f.
Construction cost: Withheld
Contractor:  Golobic Construction
Consultants: Dominic Chu Structural Engineer
Photographer: Bruce Damonte

Toro By Mark English Architects - Sheet3
©Bruce Damonte

The original mid-century home was laid out in an ‘L-shaped’ plan around a central terrace facing a singular monumental redwood tree. The site is subject to 50-foot setbacks on all sides, and the existing home extended well into several of them.  The buildable area left for an addition and pool was therefore a narrow triangular shape bisected by an unbuildable steep slope.

Our client is a true renaissance man: a product designer, software engineer, and playwright.  His hand is found in many of the well-designed software and consumer products most of us use every day.  He loves the site for its liminal nature and the choreography of moving through it. His design aesthetic finds its grounding in a love for the essence of all things Japanese.

Toro By Mark English Architects - Sheet4
©Bruce Damonte

Our shared endeavor was to create a home that added the necessary program and accentuated the feeling of being perched above the ground in the canopy of the redwoods.

The parti retains the original footprint and adds a new higher volume addition containing the dining and office/library rooms. Deeply cantilevered flat roof planes cover decks at the east and south facades, controlling solar penetration into the building and creating transitional indoor/outdoor spaces.

With an entrance at each end, the cleft between the original and new buildings becomes the interior circulation. Clear finished cedar siding covers the entire exterior of the building, wrapping back under the eaves onto the ceilings of the dining room and office, creating a sense of continuity between interior and exterior.

Toro By Mark English Architects - Sheet10
©Bruce Damonte

A grand stairway of meandering granite slab steps leads up through a cedar “gatehouse” to a canopied entrance deck facing the front door. A simple Japanese garden is located between the entrance deck and the house, enshrining the monumental tree.

The interior of the home is a uniformly peaceful soft white, accommodating the owner’s furnishings and favorite objects. Floors are mostly muted porcelain or travertine tiles, accented here and there by Teak wood.

Tōrō House is a study in the harmony of dualities.  Like the central hallway uniting the two wings of the residence, the house itself is a product of uniting Japanese and Mid-Century Modernist aesthetics – a marriage of east and west emblematic of the new Silicon Valley.

Toro By Mark English Architects - Sheet13
©Bruce Damonte

All lighting in the home is LED for energy savings.
The heating system is high efficiency hydronic in-floor heating.
The roof insulation is low infiltration spray foam.
The roofing is Cool Roof vinyl membrane roofing.

Key Materials


Siding: Clear red cedar siding.

Stainless Cable Rail: stainless custom design.

Door & Window Systems: Fleetwood clear anodized finish.

Wood Decks: Ipe hardwood.


Exposed Steel: Painted structural steel sections.

Wood Floors: Engineered Teak

Tile Floors: Porcelanosa Tiles and Travertine Tiles.

Lighting: Boffi Bath, Kreon, NUworld LED panels.

Countertops and Shower wall surfaces: Caesarstone & Domenico Mori ceramic tile.

Cabinets: Custom with Painted matt finish.

Kitchen Countertop:  Caesarstone.

Kitchen Cabinets:  Arclinea.

Kitchen Plumbing:  KWC & Foster.

Kitchen Appliances: Miele, except Viking range and custom hood.

Door Hardware: Valli & Valli

Library Ladder Hardware: Bartels

Sliding Door Hardware: Hafele

Master Bath Plumbing: Tub- Wetstyle, Taps- Boffi, Shower- Boffi.


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