Trinity Road Residence by

2023 Private Gardens / California / USA / Built in 2022 /

The property sits at the top of Trinity Road, above the forested hills and valleys of Sonoma county. The project unfolded in two phases and is fundamentally a story of resilience and transformation. During the first phase, the design team sited three guest houses designed by the architects, downhill from the existing main house on the top of the mountain. They regraded and terraced the sloping landscape to create more usable area and designed a pool in between the main and guest houses. Integral color concrete walls borrowed from the native rock color palette of the hillside and grasses; wildflowers and manzanitas were introduced to blend into the surrounding landscape.

The property was ravaged by wildfires in 2017 and the preexisting main house—which was a wood frame, wood clad structure—was damaged. During the fires, the concrete walls that were holding grade acted as a fire break and protected much of the property. During the second phase of the project, the architects rebuilt the main house using the same concrete structural approach that they had taken to the guest houses in phase 1, which were only minimally damaged during the fires. Most of the landscape survived the fire, but the design was revisited to knit into the broader site.

The mountain had been left completely exposed after the fire; the site became very windy and echoey. Opportunistic invasive plants had started to take over parts of the site. The designers were able to adapt the planting palette according to their observations of the forest regrowth, modeled after the character of a landscape in transformation. The landscape design team’s intervention included abatement measures to remove invasive acacias and replace them with native oaks and toyon. They brought back the Arbutus and Manzanitas that had been naturally growing on the site and low-water plants that create natural habitats for native birds and insects. Herbs and wildflowers were planted around the property by hydroseeding, a technique that facilitates rooting in areas exposed to the sun and wind and that helped with erosion control for the exposed site.

The new landscape is a celebration of the resilience of the mountain and a space of reflection that borrows views of the surrounding landscape as it evolves. New garden spaces focus on native and adapted species that require low water while facilitating habitat. Trinity Road incorporates the new character of a forest in transformation.

Architect: Mork-Ulnes Architects
Interior Design: The Office of Charles De Lisle
Location: California
Design year: 2018
Year Completed: 2022


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