Malcolm Davis Architecture

Malcolm Davis Architecture (MDA) designed this sustainable residence in Northern California. Inspired by the surrounding landscape and embodying a casual, indoor-outdoor California lifestyle, the residence, resembles a modern-day ranch house. With its zen-like presence and modern architectural style, it is set amongst sweeping redwood and oak trees.


While distinctly modern in style, the house pulled forms and materials from 80 years of contemporary Northern California architecture. Harkening back to the property’s history as a walnut grove, MDA worked with Ground Studio Landscape Architecture to retain the existing redwood and oak trees, as well as to cultivate an olive grove at the lower half of the site. The olive grove and lack of a perimeter fence made the property and neighbouring parcels feel more expansive as they “borrow” a sense of spaciousness from one another. Dismantling

Instead of demolishing the original residence, the design team and homeowners opted to carefully dismantle it, in order to salvage lumber and other materials, some of which were used into the final design. MDA incorporated time-proven passive solar concepts to maximum effect, including southern exposures, thermal mass, cross-ventilation for natural cooling and calibrated solar shading along the generous southern overhangs. Other sustainable features included grey water harvesting, whereby the bathing and laundry water were stored and repurposed to flush toilets and irrigate the landscape, as well as photovoltaic panels that produce electricity and solar thermal panels that preheat the domestic and pool water. Another important design move was to preserve a hundred-year-old, above ground concrete cistern, a remnant of the site’s agrarian history.

The modern ranch house that was created, is invisible from the street, providing the owners with a sheltered refuge, more befitting of the country than a suburban lot. The house, encompassed by nature, feels a world away from neighbouring Silicon Valley.
© Photos: Bruce Damonte Photography