Excerpt: Swatt Miers Architects’ Drury Court Residence blends the programme and site with structural forms drawn from the surrounding mature redwood grove. A series of 2 and 3-story board-formed concrete core walls and columns were built to support three clear-span floor plates that stepped down the hillside because of the unique site. These concrete components have been scaled to work in harmony with the redwoods, not to overpower nor be overwhelmed.
[Text as submitted by architect] The project design integrates the program and site with structural forms inspired by the towering, mature redwood grove bordering its southern edge. Situated high in the Oakland/Berkeley Hills, this magnificent 2.19-acre site slopes sharply to the west with stunning bay views while abutting the East Bay Regional Park on the north and east.
Given this unique setting, a series of 2 and 3-story board-formed concrete core walls and columns were established to support three clear-span floor plates stepping down the hillside. These concrete elements have been scaled to achieve a harmonic counterpoint alongside the redwoods—neither to overwhelm nor be overwhelmed.
While doing so, they support the program’s massing, allowing it to be sculpted to the site. With the land and water elements running through the structure as it terraces down the hillside, it enables all three levels to be accessed from the existing grade. Allowing for a quieter, two-story residential scale on the eastern entrance facade, it unfolds into a bolder, three-story sun-shaded western elevation with magnificent views of the bay.
All the site’s trees are preserved, and several wonderful oaks are integrated into the design, one of which becomes part of the upper-level bedroom balcony. Additionally, as the site extends through the main residence, a lower, detached concrete and glass pool house is tucked into the slope such that it is invisible from the arrival entry court above.
The project utilizes simple, natural exterior materials, including wood (cedar siding), board-formed concrete, cement plaster with an acrylic finish coat, trellis-shaded aluminum, and high-performance glass windows and doors. Its highly efficient electric heat pump system is supplemented by solar panels with battery backup.