Project name: Valhalla
Location: Martis Camp, California
Interior Designer: Bethe Cohen Designs
Architect: RKD Architects Inc. Sally Brainerd, partner in charge

From the first moment, this home was to be designed as a sculpture. A sculpture derived from, and still part of, the landscape; a sculpture that reflects a young family who loves this mountain environment.

Occupying a serene clearing high in the Sierra Mountains, Valhalla brings in the outdoors with transparent walls and patio access from almost every room. A series of stone wedges separates the spaces and provides platforms for capturing the views of the high peaks. The exposed timber structure echoes the surrounding ponderosa forest while supporting the dynamic, protective arched roof forms. The use of angular stone forms, curved walls and carved roof might have run the risk of creating competing elements; but instead, by using a reduced palette of natural materials: strips of cut granite; zinc and walnut trim, the home is completely harmonious.

The interior takes it cues from the architecture to create a dynamic yet calm and relaxed whole. The orientation of the roof structure and the expression of the stone forms are dynamic but still lend a sense of order to the progression of spaces. The exterior materials reappear inside; warm colours and understated furniture provide a contemporary but homey sanctuary in the woods. This is a home with its own modern sensibilities that do not rely on the revisited mid century boxes or dark and heavy mountain chalets. Valhalla is a unique yet approachable piece of architecture that defies categorisation into a style, but still fulfills its mission to be a piece of art that reflects its surroundings and the active family that inhabit its spaces.