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Triple Barn House

Triple Barn House

California, Residential Architecture –

MORK-ULNES ARCHITECTS creates a rusted three-roof residential home on the rural hillsides of Sonoma, California for a Chef and her family 

Triple Barn House facade
The triple-roofed building with its rusted steel form peeks over natural grasses and iron-red soil. The bold materials make a statement on the exterior

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FOOD, PRODUCE, NATURE, COOKING, entertaining and retreat are important elements in the lifestyles of chef and food educator Hollie Greene Rottman and her husband Jim Rottman, Global Head of Diversity and Inclusion for a pharmaceutical company. 

Their brief to their architects – Mork-Ulnes Architects – was to create a home that would connect to nature, a place to entertain family and friends, and a retreat to re-energise and find tranquillity from their busy lives. The secluded location surrounded by countryside enabled the creation of a large vegetable garden. The couple also wanted a spacious professional styled kitchen, private master suite, two guest rooms, and a separate office.

Cantilevered section
Triple Barn House interiors
Triple Barn House kitchen area
The kitchen expands outdoors under a large cantilevered eave that creates a continuation of space with kitchen counter extending into the landscape

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Clients Hollie and Jim:

The house is our own healing sanctuary. It’s peaceful and private. We love reading outside, working in the garden, and taking shade under the large oak tree by the fire pit when the afternoon sun is intense. This house and kitchen are also perfectly designed to have a weekend retreat with cooking included or host an occasional cooking class.”

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The three-roof house uses materials that connect to the land and its agricultural setting

On 160 square metres overlooking panoramic views from the Sonoma Valley, the dream home with its triple roofed rusted steel form peeks over natural grasses and iron-red soil. The bold materials make a statement on the exterior, where corten steel brings out the building’s rural location and roots it into the iron-red rock landscape. Rough concrete at the base accentuates the agricultural nature of the setting.

The plan of the upper floor responds to the triple roof form of the house: one roof houses the public area of the kitchen and dining area as well as the outdoor kitchen and lounge, one roof contains the more private zone of the guest rooms and living room, and the third roof houses the private zone of the master suite. The lower concrete level contains the entry room and stair, laundry and storage room, carport / fire truck turnaround, and triangular office.

Staircase and picture window
A large picture window opens up to sweeping views of the Sonoma countryside

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Guided to the front door through a large concrete void, and up the winding stairs to the main residence you are greeted with a stunning view of the valley from a large picture window. The stair lands in the middle of the public space of the house, with the kitchen and dining room on the north end and a long living room heading towards the private guest rooms and master suite.

The kitchen expands outdoors under a large cantilevered eave that creates a continuation of space with kitchen counter extending into the landscape with an outdoor bar and grilling area and outdoor living room. The glass facade in the living room opens to Sonoma Valley and its dramatic sunsets.

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Interiors with an open-plan simplicity for a casual feel

Triple Barn House interior with view
Triple Barn House furnishings in light colour
Triple Barn House interior with views
The lightness of the interiors contrasts with the agricultural boldness of the exterior

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In contrast to the bold agricultural textures of the exterior, the interiors exude a lightness in white with furnishings of dusty sunbleached palette to keep the space bright and to show off the captivating views. To add warmth and tactility, Douglas Fir treated with lye and white oil is used on the floors and some cabinetry. The bathrooms in natural stone offer subtle luxury to country living.

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The architects and designers

Casper Mork-Ulnes of Mork-Ulnes Architects

Casper Mork-Ulnes, Norwegian-born Founder and Principal of Mork-Ulnes Architects, on the choice of materials used for Triple Barn House:

We chose corten steel as the cladding material for its natural resistance to fire as well as its resonance to agricultural buildings of the Sonoma Valley. The natural soil of the Sonoma hillside is very iron rich which gives it a rusted colour making the house tie back to earth.”

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Mork-Ulnes Architects was founded in 2005 by Norwegian-born Casper Mork-Ulnes, who was raised in Italy, Scotland and the United States. His roots in these various cultures have brought a broad perspective to his firm’s work. In 2015, Casper was named one of “California’s finest emerging talent” by the American Institute of Architects California Council. He was selected by the Norwegian National Museum as one of “the most noteworthy young architects in Norway” with the exhibit Under 40. The architectural firm has offices in Oslo and San Francisco.

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Story sourced by Carol Kraal. Design photographs by Bruce Damonte. Casper portrait courtesy of Mork-Ulnes Architects. Information supplied by Image Media Agency.