When Field Architecture first saw the build site in Portola Valley outside of San Francisco, it was a lush wooded hillside dotted with oaks—and the clients wanted to keep it that way. A retired couple with a passion for photography, they asked the architects to preserve as much of the site’s natural conditions as possible while building a home that felt like a continuation of the landscape.
The firm came back with the elegant design for Forty-One Oaks—a thoroughly modern, window-laden abode named after the number of trees on the property. The home is made of a series of intersecting rectangular volumes featuring flat roofs extending into deep overhangs. The exterior boasts concrete structural elements that combine with steel-framed glass and cedar siding.
“The trees formed the foundation of this material palette,” said the architects. “The concrete elements take on the strong verticality of tree trunks, and the steel, horizontal, cantilevered canopies shelter with the same grace as sloping branches – an architectural echo of the form of the oak tree.”
The white-and-gray interior gets its warmth from wood-paneled ceilings that extend as one long plane to the outdoor overhangs, providing a sense of connection and continuity with the outdoors.