Project: Arroyo Oak House
Architects: ANX / Aaron Neubert Architects
Structural Engineers: Craig Phillips Engineering
Landscape Designer: LPO / Jeff Lindfors
Location: Castaic, California
Project completion date: December 2021
Photographer: Brian Thomas Jones
ANX Places Zinc and Wood Volume Overlooking the Sierra Pelona Mountains
Weary from years of two-hour work commutes, the project owners engaged ANX / Aaron Neubert Architects to develop a new residence within a mile of their Southern California manufacturing company’s facility and offices. Interested in maintaining a similar connection to the land as their current residence, an undeveloped rugged sandstone terrain, bisected by a dry river and dotted with native yucca, oak, sagebrush, and beavertail cactus, was selected as the site for the new home.
In response to the challenge of creating spaces to view, measure, and engage with the diversity of the surrounding semi-arid landscape, the Arroyo Oak House is open and transparent, immersed in natural light, and visually integrated with the surrounding Sierra Pelona Mountains. Optimizing the connection to this unique topography, multiple interlocking program-specific pavilions are oriented across the site. The placement and overlap of these pavilions result in varying scales of gardens, terraces, and decks, encouraging landscape elements to literally and perceptually permeate the home’s interior.
Upon approach, an elevated, horizontally-clad zinc volume is presented, both transparent to focus attention on the distant ridgelines, and semi-reflective to capture the impression of the clouds. Entering below the elevated mass and into the living level, primary apertures located on the perimeter and secondary fissures between the pavilions collage distinct mountain and sky views. Split-level interior spaces expand into exterior terraces, collapsing the domestic environment upon the rural landscape.
The lower level, containing a home gym, laundry room, guest suite, and pool terrace, extends into the hillside, providing an unobstructed panoramic vista. The continuous materiality of cedar and limestone accentuates the experiential relationship between inside and out. This connection to the outdoors continues on the upper level, which contains the primary bedroom, home office, two secondary bedrooms, linear balcony, and lounge deck.
The pool terrace and adjacent open-air living room unfold onto the meadow and ultimately the arroyo below, augmenting a natural, preexisting path for animals with a minimally delineated walking loop with which to explore the site. The sensitive nature of the fire-susceptible landscape, as well as the unique climate, solar, and seasonal conditions, called for careful positioning of the home, as well as consideration of plant specifications and irrigation requirements.