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Portola Valley Residence

The steep hillside lot had been developed with a single-family residence (1965), which was at the maximum area for local zoning; therefore, the only way to enlarge the residence was to add a basement. During the cost analysis process, it became clear that supporting the house while creating a basement – and then substantially remodeling the remaining structure – would require far more effort and treasure than to replace the house entirely.

Located just over one mile from the San Andreas Fault, the Owners tasked the design team to find a superior solution to the “Life Safety” standard required by Code. The team combined advances in seismic analysis and building technology to create for the owners one of the most seismically resilient houses built in the US.

The newly designed house takes full advantage of the potential of this beautiful site. The home centers on large public rooms opening to outdoor spaces and the use of natural light. On the top level, the kitchen and family room sit side-by-side creating a shared space, with an expansive floor-to-ceiling folding door system allowing the rooms to open completely to the south-facing upper terrace and garage roof deck. An outdoor cooking area supports both family dinners as well as large gatherings of friends and family. Also on the top level, a living room and lounge area open to a large deck cantilevered high above the ground and oriented to the northern views. The feeling of being “in the trees” enhances the connection to the impressive landscape.

“The site was difficult to build on, and the house was designed with many unique and technically challenging details that MatPel handled with great aplomb. Needless to say, their craftsmanship was top-notch. From top to bottom they are technically knowledgeable, good communicators, as well as being fun, and easy to work with.” — 2M Architecture

Size | 5,669 SF

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