Shim Retreat

The site for this 1200 sf vacation residence consists of a trapezoidal down slope hillside lot, wedged between the street and neighboring properties. Due to the spatial restrictions imposed by the allowable zoning envelope, and the visual opportunities afforded by the location, the massing and orientation of the residence are derived from various internal and external site and program parameters.

Organized into two intertwined volumetric wedges – eastern and western – the modest residence is situated upon a ground floor plinth inserted into the hillside. The plinth simultaneously retains the hillside to carve out the basement level storage spaces, creates the platform for the first floor deck and parking areas, and cantilevers a platform over the property to accommodate the necessary footprint for the two levels of the house. A double height circulation core, in conjunction with strategically located operable windows and skylights, acts to naturally ventilate the residence, and provide access to both floors.

In response to the level of exposure to the street and adjacent properties, the western envelope develops into a semi-opaque volume with minimal windows on two sides, while expanding and opening to embrace the landscape to the north. This volume contains the entry, guest rooms, and the terraced living spaces within the home. The elevated and interlocking eastern envelope screens the remainder of the property from the street and produces the required covered parking below. Containing the primary bedroom suite and lounge area, this volume opens to the north, as well as capturing a view of the sunset to the west.

The overall massing of the home manifests the intention to maximize the livability within the limited build-able envelope, capitalize on the exposure to the landscape, and optimize the passive heating/cooling opportunities through the strategic utilization of localized solar and wind patterns.

Project Team: Aaron Neubert (Principal), Jina Seo (Project Architect), Shuxin Wu / Structural Engineer: Craig Phillips Engineering / Civil Engineer: SanMina Engineering