Founded on principles of environmental stewardship through thoughtful architecture, Sea Ranch is an ideal context for developing projects that advance sustainable building concepts.  The community’s development guidelines prioritize the structures’ symbiotic relationship with the landscape, not allowing either to dominate.  The environment is an equal contributor to the community’s design and is considered through planning goals that tightly cluster buildings, maintaining open space and allowing public paths throughout the site.  Sea Ranch continually develops environmentally conscious interventions including bio remediation of grey water to maintain it’s own water supply and developing a vast community garden where produce is traded for labor.  The “Pelican Residence,” developed for a team of builders, designers, and makers, exemplifies Sea Ranch’s values and can be considered an archetype for mixing great design with sustainable building practices.

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Architect: Malcolm Davis
Team Members: Empire Contracting , Gamble + Design , Floriferous Landscaping
Country: United States

The building’s program, gathered around courtyards, was inspired by Northern California’s coastal architectural vernacular. The building’s layout places the kitchen as the literal and figurative center of the home. Family-use spaces are aligned across the southern face of the house, providing front row seats for enjoying the view. A small courtyard to the East lets morning sunlight in and provides a plot for growing vegetables. This courtyard also allows views from the guest room through the house to the ocean, while shielding the neighbor’s view in.

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To the west of the kitchen, the larger courtyard features a series of operable panels to control both views and wind, providing a sheltered space for outdoor cooking and living. From this courtyard space, a stairway and a catwalk connect residents to the rooftop deck. The deck proved to be a major challenge as its height threatened the neighbors’ privacy. The catwalk is screened by a wall of fixed louvers, angled to preserve privacy while allowing ocean views to the south. The intimate, cherished deck fulfills the owners’ dream of whale watching while enjoying a cold beer. The deck itself is set between twined chimneys that serve the dual interests of privacy from the neighbors and wind protection for the owners.

Windows set on opposite sides of the main courtyard below allow the master bedroom’s window seat to have views across the courtyard through the living room and to the coast beyond while maintaining visual separation from the public path.

The architect’s directive was to take full advantage of the sites’ spectacular views while providing privacy for both the existing neighbors and the new inhabitants. The owner, a retired Public Works contractor, is a committed proponent of LEED goals. The owners’ family was part of the design team; his daughter-in-law was the project’s interior designer, and his son its’ lighting designer. The collaborative design team chose a craft-oriented local builder. The builder met the project’s challenges, implementing various innovative green technologies, from rain-screen siding and energy efficient mechanical/electrical systems to the custom operable panels and the louvered privacy wall. Through the team’s collaborative efforts, the project was the first in Sea Ranch to be honored with the LEED Platinum certification.

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Rethinking The Future Awards 2022