The Experience of Being Both the Architect and the Client
Situated in a community just outside of San Diego proper, my 1939 built home has simple interior detailing with Spanish Eclectic elements that were typical in this region for that era of home. Having a more modernist sensibility, I wanted to respect the era of the home and interiors while creating a more modern aesthetic. Keep in mind that “modern” is a scary word for many. Often people think it is devoid of warmth or comfort and thoughts wander to images of sterile and cold-feeling spaces; at Asquared Studios however, we believe that modern should really only be considered to be a current period in time. Everything was modern at one time, even my own home. Therefore, think of modern as taking advantage of current available material, technologies and products. So for sake of assigning it a style, let’s call my bathroom renovation a “modern Spanish Eclectic”. My intent was not to mimic a period in time but to respect the existing context or language of the house.
As my own client I did have a budget. However, I often had to remember the same advice we provide our own clients. When a client asks “can I do that”, we answer “we can do pretty much anything, but does it fit within the budget, and do you want to afford it”. When examining the design and execution of specific details or evaluating the merits of specific materials, costs can easily fluctuate. This is what we mean by “do you want to afford it”. Often the most visually clean and elegant detailing is the most time consuming to construct.
Though it has been one year now, the memories loom well in my mind. The constant dust around my house, the never ending questions presented by the contractor and the seemingly never-ending schedule changes due to product delays. As an architect, many of us hope to someday design for ourselves. I am fortunate enough to have had the opportunity to design a bathroom remodel for my own home and experience the architectural process both as the designer and the client.
We typically experience having to explain the value of our services and what we offer our clients. Is it for the design, our field experience, our professional advice, our listening ear, etc? Well, it’s really all of the above. Being emotionally invested offered a perspective which was a new experience. It is definitely easier for us to assist a client in making rational choices when we can separate emotions from the experience. Although we practice a heightened sense of empathy when it comes to navigating the emotional connections of a project with a client, my own personal experience has given me even a more intuitive sense of how to help our clients navigate a potentially stressful experience.
Now, having had the experience of being my own client, I believe I can be a more successful Architect. We believe there is always room for improvement, and we are continually evaluating our experiences so we can bring these lessons forward to our past, current, and future clients. We look forward to taking our evolving practice and applying it to your next dream.
Sonoma Residence With A View Receives the AIA Architecture Merit Award from AIA-RE
Asquared Studios’ first rammed earth residential design was honored at the 2022 AIA-RE Design Awards
On Saturday, October 15, at the AIA Redwood Empire Design Awards, The Sonoma Residence With A View received the Merit Award for Architecture, and the impressions were overwhelming – “The jury stated that the house unfolded in a beautiful way at every turn.”
Inspired by the rugged, prehistoric terrain and the inherent tranquilly of the site, this modern, pagoda-style house was designed as a quiet sanctuary. Nestled atop a knoll below a dramatic ridgeline in the Moon Mountain District American Viticultural Area that overlooks the Sonoma Valley grape-growing region and the San Francisco Bay, the new, one-bedroom abode was conceived as a series of interlocking boxes, arranged to maximize the views and complement the landscape.
Tasked with creating a minimalist, rural design to reflect the owner’s Eastern aesthetics and love of the land, the architects suggested a simple, textural material palette. Using reduced-carbon rammed earth, corrosion-resistant corten steel, renewable wood, and high-performing glass, the low-lying structure appears to arise from the scattered boulders that dot the 300-acre property. The striated rammed earth walls frame windswept heritage trees and seem to map the rows of grapevines that hug the hillside below. Corten steel siding, reminiscent of the surrounding volcanic lava rock, define the structure’s distinct geometric forms. A raised, pagoda-style roof marks the arid skyline and works in concert with the expanses of glass window walls that allow the home to open to the land while circulating fresh air throughout. Deep eves protect from the elements while creating a spiritual connection to the surroundings.
Inside is equally as contemplative. The rammed earth is accentuated against neutral paint colors and accents of walnut, shou sugi ban, blackened steel, and poured concrete floors that were worked into a unique distressed finish. Wood and natural light abounds. Exposed walnut ceilings extend to the outdoors, covering pathways and al fresco seating.
At the project’s center is the great room with a high-performing 40-ft wide by 11-ft tall sliding glass wall, laid out along a Northern axis to take advantage of the Bay view. Walnut cabinetry anchors the open kitchen. Across the way, a shou sugi ban entertainment nook adds a moody depth to an otherwise sunlit living space. To the West is a home office complete with a window wall that erases the boundaries between indoors and out. To the East, the en suite bedroom captures the morning light. Custom midcentury casework defines the sleeping quarters while an elevated wet room with Japanese soaking tub opens to a zen garden via a large pocketing floor-to-ceiling window.
Throughout, artwork and objets d’ art, collected from the owner’s travels, are tastefully displayed. The design also features a yoga studio with yoga wall, an outdoor fire-pit, laundry room, and a wine room.
Additional information + Press about the awards can be found at the Press Democrat