Roof over one’s head is the most common dreams among most of the people for which they try hard day in and day out. However, this house at Atherton California, just down El Camino from Stanford University, in the heart of Silicon Valley may make this idiom itself redundant if not the dream of owning one’s own house. Because this house, designed by Craig Steely, a California and Hawaii based architect, is a roofless house.
It is located in a suburban city characterized by mature trees and homes on large plots hidden behind fences. The climate is temperate, almost Mediterranean and the owner wanted a house where she could live outdoors as much as possible. Complicating this desire was the plot which was long and narrow and her view on all sides was of the backs of the neighbouring houses which (like most typical suburban houses) are huge and blank. But above these neighbouring houses, the mature tree canopy and sky were alive, constantly changing and breathtaking. Focusing on this view “up” rather than horizontally “out” Craig Steely architects created a seemingly roofless house that surrounds the living spaces by huge outdoor courtyards that direct the view up.
The living spaces are open planned and blur the connection between indoor/outdoor with retractable sliding doors and continuous materials like travertine on the floors and cedar on the walls. But what sets this building apart is the continuous curving wall that surrounds it. It fully encloses the house, blocking out the less desirable views, focusing on the more meaningful views and creating interest as the sunlight and shadows move through the day along its sur faces. At its most elemental, the curving wooden wall creates a visual backdrop seen through the interior landscape of plants and birch trees, animated by the shadows moving across it all day.
Unlike its neighbours, Roofless House is not fenced off at its street perimeter. A meadow of native grasses flow from the sidewalk with existing oaks, redwoods and newly planted birch trees flowing inside and outside of the curving wooden wall. (Source: Craig Steely)