In Big Sur, a House With Major Drama

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Perched delicately atop a coastal bluff, this California vacation home by Fougeron Architecture boasts a complex form dictated by the sloping site and its stunning natural beauty.

Looking up from the Pacific Ocean, Fougeron Architecture’s Fall House seems poised to do just that. The three-bedroom vacation home’s insertion into its site in Big Sur, California, is deceptively precarious, giving the impression of a structure that has paused, mid-glide on its way down the bluffs, before it goes tumbling down the 75-metre drop to the sea below.

Architect Anne Fougeron’s cascading form is a clear response to the site. The south facade is almost completely enveloped in bright copper, which reflects the California sun; and the opposite elevation is fully glazed, ushering in the amazing view. The glass wraps around the house’s eastern tip, a dramatic cantilever that thrusts the master bedroom forward to float above the bluffs.

This main level of the house is constructed as a frame for the stunning vistas, conforming to the site to take advantage of the natural surroundings. In addition to the master suite, the floor contains an open-concept living room, library and kitchen, these individual spaces marked by changes in level as the volume gently steps down the slope. Keeping the focus on the views, the interior palette is calm, simple and elegant, with dark wood on the south wall and sweeping ceilings and limestone on the floors.

Protruding from the ground alongside the copper-sided wall, an oculus is set into the green roof above the home’s subterrranean level. Running perpendicular to the main volume, the sub-grade section acts as an anchor – steadying the house against earthquakes, erosion and other forces of nature. The unique skylight brings natural light into the lower wing, which contains bedrooms, storage and a bathroom.

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