SENTIENT live edge dining table

Rivera Residence by Shubin & Donaldson

Clients Mr. and Mrs. Geoffrey Moore wanted to take advantage of a classic Santa Barbara site on what is known as “The Riviera”. Situated on a ridge, the near-perfect location commands a 270-degree view of the Pacific Ocean, a dramatic canyon, and the Santa Ynez mountains.

This relatively small house has all of the elements of a 5,000- or 6,000-square-foot house in a tidy, 3,200-square-foot package. The three-level home and two-car garage include open living/dining area, kitchen, master bedroom and bath, guest bedroom and bath, home gym, powder room, two home offices with office bath, outdoor dining area, outdoor lounge areas, lap pool, and 1,400 square feet of lower-level storage.

Though not immediately obvious, this house embraces several characteristics of environmentally sustainable design. The basic design strategy is to site the house based on solar orientation, resulting in passive solar gains throughout the year. Photovoltaic power generates household electricity through a 2.8kw system (when power is not needed, it feeds back into the grid). A passive roof-top solar heating system provides for domestic hot water and a passive solar ground-level hot-water system is used to heat the pool. The natural flow of hot and cool air is fortified by the use of radiant hot-water floor heating and separate central air conditioning in the ceilings. Although these systems are in place, they are rarely used because of the solar orientation of the home and the natural ventilation.

The architects re-used the existing foundation and caissons. During construction, the existing house was taken apart piece-by-piece, with all usable elements donated to Habitat for Humanity. Other energy-saving systems include double-pane windows, UV-resistant glass, ample insulation, and energy-efficient appliances. Deep exterior overhangs are designed to provide shade in the summer, and let in sun during the winter.

A dramatic glass canopy ceremoniously marks the entrance to the home, bisecting the ground-to-roof planes of glass that form sidelights and clerestories. Throughout the house, walls intersect with glass in a play of solidity and transparency. There is a certain efficiency of design in the layout, yet it provides all of the amenities so that the house looks and feels like a five-star private residential club. By taking up minimal space—what’s absolutely necessary and no more—the house also takes up minimal resources.

A monumental feeling is emphasized by designing the house to constantly open up to the outdoors. A neutral color scheme complements the colors of nature that comprise the predominant palette. An infinity pool just outside the living room leads the eye to the ocean and the Channel Islands beyond. Four separate terraces surround the house, continuing the indoor/outdoor feeling and accessibility.

Each room affords great vistas as well as stunning natural light throughout the day. Large windows create frames for nature. Floor-to-ceiling bookshelves complement the mahogany living room wall that houses an entertainment center. Set into the wall, and surrounded by floor-to-ceiling glass, it acts as an extension of the outdoors. Doorways in general—even in the limestone-clad bathrooms—are taller than usual and lead the eye upward to be rewarded by either natural light or a beautiful vista. Dark walnut floors and softly minimalist furniture are sophisticated and inviting. Bedrooms and master bath look out to the ocean. The kitchen faces the hillside, emphasizing how the house maintains a connection with nature.

Location: Santa Barbara, California
Principal Architects: Robin Donaldson AIA, Russell Shubin AIA
Project Architect: Robin Donaldson AIA
Project Team: Nils Hammerbeck, Daniel Webber, Kelly Kish, Allison White, Josh Blumer, Alan McLeod, David Van Hoy


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