High above Silicon Valley sits a striking home with a two-story volume clad in blackened cedar. Schwartz and Architecture designed the Shou Sugi Ban House, which is named after the traditional Japanese method used to burn the wood, which wraps it in a layer of carbon highly resistant to water, fire, and mold. The charred timber volume is an extension to an existing one-story home, the interior of which was also substantially remodeled by the architects.
Located on the crest of a hill in Los Gatos, California, Shou Sugi Ban House is a 4,350-square-foot renovation and expansion project that takes inspiration from the surrounding landscape, including the texture and look of boulders, bark, and leaves. “Enlarging an existing home that has an already strong and complete architectural character can be challenging,” wrote the architects. “Here, we anchor the existing one-story home with a new two-story independent volume, using it both as punctuation mark and counterpoint to the existing composition. We clad the addition in traditional Japanese Shou Sugi Ban burnt cedar siding both to anchor home with site and to create the visual weight necessary to anchor the existing exuberantly-roofed horizontal building.”
In contrast to the extension’s dark facade, the airy interior features whitewashed walls with natural textures applied throughout. A family room occupies the lower level while a bedroom is placed upstairs. Views of the outdoors are framed through large full-height glazing making it feel as if the interior is open to the outdoors. A particularly beautiful feature of the new extension is the minimalist floating staircase made of painted-steel and cantilevered walnut treads that the architects liken to leaves growing on a branch.
Images via Matthew Millman