Natural Rewards


Homes of The Year: By Eva Ditler Images by Brady Architectural Photograhy


Casa 8 reveals the environment’s beauty from within and without…


THE GRADUALLY EVOLVING DISCOVERIES that the architecture of Heather Johnston’s Casa 8 brings forth create the effect of an unfolding — somewhat like a meandering dream of hallway passages where you are in wonderment of what might come next. There’s an experience no matter where you are in this Del Mar Homes of the Year winner — the family room, the kitchen, the entrance hall, even the walkway leading to the front door; all seem to float toward some sort of revelation.


“I like the way this house sits in its context, packing in a lot of livability without overpowering its neighbors,” says Homes of the Year judge Ted Smith. “There’s a beautiful continuous flow of spaces. Nothing is overdone. The long terrace really holds this house together.”


From the home’s very beginning at the walkway, your eye is lead to what is beautiful. There’s a very orchestrated procession from one space to the other, which includes such minute details as the way the light moves through the interior like a piece of poetry.


“The homeowners wanted lots of natural light,” says Johnston. “They asked for a simple, clean, modern home that would take advantage of the ocean views to the north and south, accommodate the family’s evolving requirements and maximize space. I proposed a house where the living area is on the street level to take in the views of the Pacific Ocean, the bedrooms are in more private spaces below and the garage is below that in the basement.”


Johnston had to accommodate many different challenges: strict coastal height and setback restrictions, a narrow footprint, a top-to-bottom 20-foot slope and the fact that the property sits at an angle.


Her solution, dubbed Casa 8 “because this project furthered our practice,” is a four-bedroom residence that seamlessly flows from one room to the next with natural movement created by the scenery and sun’s rays.


“Visitors are encouraged through the home’s architectural design to shed stressors of the outside world in favor of peaceful, serene moments,” says HOY judge Lisa Wilson-Wirth. “Inside, the home’s expansive ceiling heights and use of natural lighting create an extremely welcoming, intrinsic space that offers a language of visual simplicity and comfort. Many meditative features throughout create opportunities to slow down and revel in the beauty of material and modern design.”


Repeated shapes, patterns and materials bring continuity. Rounded pebbles lend interest to the curved concrete exterior walk and are brought to the interior, in a smaller version, on the shower floor. Burnished concrete used on walls is employed again on the methanol-burning fireplace. Maple has a horizontal application on flooring but a vertical one on slatted screens.


“Architecture is part of the interior design, also,” says Johnston, “and there are ways to have the architecture work with those things we are already given. It’s more about how we can let all these natural things — light, air, the joy of the outside environment — come into stronger focus.


“If the windows frame the view, the view becomes the artwork — sometimes grey, sometimes blue, sometimes a sunset — it doesn’t get any lovelier than that. To notice how spaces change in a day, how smells change if you open the windows, how colors change depending on the time of day —isn’t that enough anymore? After all, those are the more rewarding things.”


Casa 8 — Beautiful and Energy-Efficient


Judge Kent Prater commented that Heather Johnston’s project was a “great effort to build sustainability.” Here are some of the eco-friendly aspects of Casa 8:


Structurally insulated panel roof


Insulated concrete form foundation walls


Home Energy Rating System-tested heating, ventilation and air-conditioning (HERS-tested HVAC)


Ecobatt insulation


Solar panels


Rectified, through-body, porcelain floor and deck tile


Sustainably forested Brazilian redwood


Drought-tolerant landscaping


Site waste recycled when possible


Categories: Home Design