Building on a Regional Modernism
Our Signature Plans Collection is expanding dramatically, most recently with work by Berkeley architect Cathy Schwabe. Before launching her own practice Cathy worked with well known Bay Area architect Joe Esherick at his firm EHDD. She says: “For me, Joe’s often-quoted question ‘How would a farmer do it?’ means designing buildings that make sense on their sites, whose practical approach to materials and construction details ensures that they will last and whose design
has a straightforward, simple beauty.” You can see this principle deftly demonstrated in her 864 sq. ft. modern, shed-roofed, board-and-batten studio, shown here opening to a flagstone terrace. It’s our Plan 891-1 (all photos by
David Wakely). The metal siding is for extra protection on the shady entry (north) side in this particular installation. The soaring beamed ceiling,
tall glass doors, and high window framing the tree and washing the wall with
light express a modern, nature-oriented warmth. The layout is simplicity itself: the living space seamlessly connects to the terrace and rises the full height of the
cabin, with the bathroom and workroom enclosed under the loft, which can double as a bunk room — just add a ladder. Large, brightly colored wall
panels — green barn door at the workroom, yellow-orange sliders at the alcove —
serve as accents for the surrounding white walls and add a theatrical “Voilà!” when opened. Originally designed as a multipurpose space for making art, enjoying holiday meals, and housing overflow guests, it would also make a fine weekend cabin. Cathy says: “The large, light-filled primary space, with polished concrete floors and a ceiling painted blue between exposed wood framing, adapts easily to the changing uses.” Indeed, one way to adapt this plan as a weekend getaway would be to turn the alcove behind the sliders into a kitchenette and treat the work room behind the barn doors as a bedroom. Want it! Want it beaucoup!
Cathy’s connection to Northern California architectural history is strong. She says: “My work follows and builds upon the work of many others who have been influenced by that special blend of the Craftsman and the Modernist, linked with a clear response to site and climate, that has resulted in the Bay Area Modern Tradition.” Visually, her studio design reaches back to Joe Esherick’s
Hedgerow house at Sea Ranch on the Sonoma Coast, from the mid-1960s, with its shed roofs and window bays (photo courtesy Sea Ranch Escape); to the long
barn-like silhouette of the Voss house near Big Sur designed by William Wurster, from the early 1930s (photo by Roger Sturtevant courtesy Calisphere); and to
Bernard Maybeck’s Mathewson house in Berkeley, of 1915, with its window walls reaching up into the eaves (photo by Daniella Thompson courtesy Berkeley Architectural Heritage). Cathy will be launching more plans in the coming weeks so stay tuned. Let your summer cabin dreams begin! (Mine already have).
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To see our Micro Cottage Collection click here.