Windsor Tree House / by Mark Silva

Why “Tree House”? A very important aesthetic and personal feature of this site is a large gracefully beautiful eucalyptus tree that has stood near the back of the property obviously for many many years. Architecturally it was important not only to save the tree, but to celebrate the tree. The owners wanted to save the tree, and the architect wanted to celebrate this beautiful specimen. The design developed with the master bedroom bed wall cantilevering out “into” the tree. With windows surrounding both sides and over the bed, when entering the room it looks and feels as though you are in the tree. Also from this location, you can see the downtown San Diego skyline from the pillow. An important part of the massive view for the owners.

The existing portion of the house that was to remain had open beams in a single shed slope, in the wrong direction. It sloped up to the east, which meant your window sizes where the massive view is were limited in size. The architect devised a system to support the entire west facing existing roof system using exposed steel I beams and only two columns, allowing the roof of the new area to the west to slope the opposite direction, up in the direction of the view - allowing massive areas of glass and creating a butterfly roof form, and much more dramatic views.

These areas of glass are a combination of butt-glazed corners and large bi-fold doors and sliding glass doors opening the interior to a very large exterior deck with gas fire pit and covered and heated sitting and eating area, complete with built-in grill and pass-thru bar to the kitchen - nearly doubling the “public” living area of the home. This is on the view side of course, but also on the steepest part of the lot. This large deck is cantilevered on 3 sides from a mid-century modern grid block base, hanging out over Pacific Beach. Additionally, large IPE dual level decks are below with integral spa, assessed by a steel stair with glass rail, matching the glass rails (with no cap) on the entire project.

This house has the latest Crestron technology when it comes to controls. iPad based user interface, wall mounted, removable and located in several locations. This high tech owner loves it! It controls everything; Audio throughout the house, video feeds to TVs, lighting controls with presets, timers and dim levels, security cameras, and entry gate doorbell and intercom with door lock buzzer. And of course its accessible remotely with the owner’s devices when not at home via an app.

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A spectacular, innovative and unusual feature to this home is the solar bridge. Originally there were several steps down the site into the large courtyard between the home and detached garage, then you have a few steps back up into the home. This made no sense to the architect, and the owner’s did not like the steps. The solution was a long floating ramp across the courtyard. And since solar was desired by the owners, it made perfect sense for this ramp to have a shade and waterproof covering made of nothing but solar panels, transparently visible from underneath, to celebrate the technology.

The owner designed the minimalist drought resistant landscape himself, and did an excellent job integrating it with the architecture, even with the steep hillside areas.

The finished design is decidedly not strict mid-century modern, but more “this century modern”, with a serious nod to the mid-century vibe.