Casa Moderne is an uber modern 10,000 sq. ft house nested in the oak filled hills of Los Altos Hills, one of the most desirable residential locations of the Silicon Valley. When approached for this design project, the site was empty with hills sloping g at 33% downhill – the views of the San Francisco Bay were hidden by the beautiful and overgrown heritage oaks surrounding the site.
The design goal was to open the site, open the views, and create outdoor spaces that are beautiful and multi-functional, but the clients wish list had another line that read: create something special.
The team at dhd, a Palo Alto-based landscape design practice led by Damir Hurdich, had a clear vision of carefully crafted modern spaces that were inviting, clean, functional and special.
The landscape begins at the property entrance. A steel gate is fully transparent and plays off the geometric language of the house. By design, this gate allows the viewer to see inside. It is open and inviting – the steel slats are positioned so that one can look straight into the property, but only at the right angle. The moment a viewer changes the angle, the gate begins to create blind spots, creating both interest and privacy for the property owner. A charcoal gray solid pedestrian gate with a red accent draws attention away from the driveway.
A 15 foot house entry door is accompanied by dhd’s interpretation of a modern koi pond. The steel bridge, with carefully constructed steel detailing penetrating over the pond, is balanced by a beautiful multi-trunked green Japanese maple. The koi pond is naturally a reflecting pool, yet the constructed steel detailing playfully creates interest in the water reflection. The steel overhang over the koi extends into the gravel driveway, it snakes around and comes back to hang over the koi pond, before it returns back to the driveway
The side yard of this property is terraced to create two distinct spaces: one on grass and one on a deck. The flat grass space is designed to allow a space for garden parties yet also for free flowing and multi functioning opportunities for children’s play. Garden parties could accommodate 80 guests.
The primary use of the side yard however is as a true extension of the interior of the house – it seamlessly extends the view from the living room out into the flat, green and beautifully crafted terraces. The outdoor is designed to take full advantage of the house – the clean lines of the constructed elements of the terraces extend to retaining walls and finally, the gate in the distance.
Steel was one of the primary constructed materials on this site – the team at dhd continued the use of steel into the terraced areas. All retaining walls and planters are made of steel – they also bend to create benches and stairs. The thinness of the steel, painted in the consistent charcoal gray creates clear, geometric constructed elements in the space allowing consistency in the crafted built elements.
The deck houses an outdoor kitchen, allows family dining and is ideal for smaller parties.
The planting palette is climate-appropriate and low water use, yet the team incorporated gray water system for the planted areas. The planting material consists of native California Oaks, Ceanothus and Myrica species for screening; Grasses such as Lomnadra l. Platinum Beauty, Seslaria autumnalis, Stipa gigantea, and Chondopetalum tactorum cover most of the structured planted areas. Flowering plants such as Delphinium Belladona, Delphinium King Arthur, Salvia Mysic Spires, Achillea Moonshine, complete the simple and soft planting palette.
Landscape Architect | dhd damir hurdich design
Image Credits | marion brenner