The building’s rigorous right-angled geometry allows him
“a variety of indoor-outdoor experiences,” says Yanai, who
admired such layouts when he was an architecture magazine
editor in his native Japan.
Because of its floor plan, nearly all the rooms have access
to stone-covered courtyards and wood decks interspersed
with Zen-like gardens planted by the San Francisco landscape
architecture firm Surfacedesign.
To establish other subliminal links to nature, the building
exterior features German-made terra-cotta panels that match
the color of redwood bark and all-weather Rheinzink roof
fasciae. And large slim-line aluminum-and-glass doors and
windows by Vitrocsa literally reflect the surrounding woods.
A dramatic glass-walled stairwell, visible from the entry
court, links the building’s top floor to the ground floor and
a state-of-the-art screening room in the basement. Figures
walking up or down the stairs animate the sculptural tower,
which illustrates a Japanese concept called ma. Loosely translated, “ma is a desirable empty space, a gap or an interval
between forms, sounds or emotions,” Yanai says.
On the ground floor, even though the nine-foot-high solid
wood and blackened steel front door seems impenetrable,
rooms inside seem to have only invisible boundaries, suggested largely by the materials that cover floors or walls.
For instance, the kitchen/dining area’s polished concrete
floors abut black American walnut wood floors in the adjacent sunken living room, and its boards in turn line up
perfectly with a teak deck just outside sliding glass doors.
The owner’s casual lifestyle obviated a formal dining room,
so the custom kitchen by New York–based Minimal has an
easy-to-clean back-painted glass backsplash, dark wenge
wood cabinets, and a wood dining counter that springs off
the Corian kitchen island. Its bar stools are comfortable
enough for dinner parties — at the chef’s table, as it were
— as well as for the owner to sometimes do his work there,
facing the south lawn and mountain views.
“When this room’s glass doors are pushed open, the dining
counter feels just like a picnic table,” the owner says.
The owner can
also toast the
summer fog that
quietly floats past
and edges the