ARA Residence, Atherton, United States
Swatt | Miers Architects

Clean, tranquil modern architecture and playful, energetic small children: at first blush, the two things can seem mutually exclusive. However, the owners of the ARA House dreamed of one day owning a peaceful, sophisticated modern home with ample outdoor space that would satisfy their deep interest in design while still being a practical, family-friendly home for their kids. After searching for two years for the right property, they finally discovered the perfect lot in Atherton, California. Surrounded by mature landscaping and heritage oak trees, the setting provides total privacy from the neighboring houses.

The design brief called for a simple, bright and elegant home that had a strong connection to the landscape for comfortable indoor-outdoor living. By setting the building at an angle—roughly 30 degrees—off of the orthogonal grid of the lot, diagonal, vanishing vistas were created from each major interior area, increasing the sense of space surrounding the home. The resulting trapezoidal exterior spaces have been transformed into landscaped outdoor rooms for family living, with extensive private gardens, terraces, and a swimming pool.

After arriving on the property via a long private driveway, one approaches the house along a footpath that carries visitors beneath a low, cantilevered roof overhang. A three-story stair core flanks the entrance and visually anchors the largely horizontal architectural composition, while its board-formed concrete provides a counterpoint to the quiet white stucco of the rest of the house. On the interior, glass railings and white oak floors provide visual warmth, and a linear skylight along the edge of the stair core washes natural light across the rich texture of the concrete and provides visual interest to the entry. The end result is a beautiful house that extends into the landscape and provides both spaces for relaxation and entertaining as well as for play. The project was completed in August 2012.

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