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Low-lying pavilions form California Meadow House by Olson Kundig

Reflecting pools, a small vineyard and an underground pub feature in this sprawling residence in northern California designed by American firm Olson Kundig.


The project, California Meadow House, is located in Woodside – an affluent town near Silicon Valley. Designed by architect Jim Olson of the Seattle firm Olson Kundig, the residence was created for a client who loves entertaining and social connectedness.

California Meadow House by Olson Kundig
Reflecting pools form part of the sprawling California Meadow House

The house sits on a 3.5-acre (1.4-hectare) property that is divided into two parts: one suggests a human touch upon the landscape, while the other is meant to be wilder in character.

The home is approached via a curved driveway that passes by old-growth olive trees, a small vineyard and a garden.

A vineyard features in the residence
A small vineyard wraps around the building

Encompassing 17,000 square feet (1,579 square metres), the home consists of low-lying, rectilinear pavilions arranged in an L-shaped formation around outdoor spaces.

“Envisioned as a singular continuous, flowing expression, this family estate designed by Jim Olson links architecture, interior design, art and landscape into an integrated whole,” the team said.

Exterior walls are sheathed in stucco and aluminium panels. Trellis-style roof overhangs help shade patios, walkways and large stretches of glass.

“Trellises weave over these spaces, providing shade from the California sun and further blending the home into the landscape,” the team said.

At the core of the house is the public zone, including the main living and dining area
A public zone forms the core of the house

At the core of the house is the public zone, including the main living and dining area.

“Unified around the central ‘home base’ living area, views radiate from this core in four directions across several reflecting pools to vistas into gardens and the nearby Santa Cruz Mountains,” the team said.

The house gets its name from the wild meadow next to it
A wild meadow can be seen through the main suite’s panoramic windows

To the east of the public area is the private portion of the residence, including a main suite, office and three children’s bedrooms. This part of the dwelling opens toward a wild meadow.

South of the public zone are three auxiliary buildings. One serves as a two-bedroom guesthouse, while the others hold an outdoor living pavilion and a dining pavilion with an underground pub.

A subterranean pub features in California Meadow House
A private pub is located underground

The auxiliary buildings are arranged in a staggered formation and echo the organisation of the adjacent vineyard.

Throughout the residence, the team incorporated ample glazing to provide a seamless connection to the outdoors. A U-shaped window in the dining pavilion lowers completely into the ground.

Earthy finishes were used for the house's interiors
The dining pavilion connects to the outdoors via retractable windows

Earthy finishes were used indoors, such as granite and limestone flooring, cedar ceilings, walnut casework and reclaimed fir wall panelling.

In the subterranean pub, countertops are made of a repurposed wooden telephone pole. Similarly, a salvaged redwood slab was used to clad a bar in the outdoor living pavilion.

The pub features tables made from repurposed wood
Repurposed wooden telephone poles are used as countertops in the pub

Olson designed numerous pieces of decor for the residence, including the dining and living room furniture, exterior lounge furniture, the main suite’s bed and nightstands, and several lighting fixtures. Steel, nickel, teak and leather are among the materials used to fabricate the pieces.

“Olson also helped to curate an international contemporary art collection for the owners of the home, complementing its architectural expression,” the team added.

California Meadow House has open plan rooms
A black fireplace anchors the living area

The residence is designed to produce as much energy as it uses. The team incorporated geothermal and hydronic systems for heating and cooling, along with solar panels that cover over half the roof area.

“The result is a home integrated with nature, not only philosophically and visually, but from a practical perspective as well,” the architect said.

Reflecting pools in the residence
California Meadow House by night

Founded in 1967, Olson Kundig is known for creating distinctive, modern-style homes in natural settings. Other projects by the firm include the Hale Lana residence in Hawaii, which is lifted above a lava bed, and the Wasatch House in Utah, which consists of pavilions connected by glazed walkways.

The photography is by Matthew Millman.


Project credits:

Architect: Olson Kundig
Project team: Jim Olson (design principal), Olivier Landa (project manager), Alivia Owens (project architect), Blair Payson (project architect), Christine Burkland (interior design), Angus MacGregor, Laura Bartunek, Daichi Yamaguchi, and architectural staff
General contractor: Barnett Company
Civil engineer: MacLeod and Associates
Landscape architect: Surface Design
Structural engineer: PCS, Structural Engineer
Mechanical engineer: WSP Group
Electrical engineer: Susanna Van Leuven
Lighting design: BHLD
Visual audio: Barker Company
Wine storage: Phil Finer Refrigeration & Air Conditioning


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