Aptos Retreat by CCS Architecture


San Francisco studio CCS Architecture have completed a house comprising two buildings in the Santa Cruz mountains of California, where the roof of one extends over the other.

These two sturctures make up the main house and are clad in reclaimed barn timber with Corten roofs.

Called Aptos Retreat, the project also included a Corten-clad barn forming a club house, two guest cabins, and leisure facilities including a swimming pool, archery range and sauna.

Photographs are by Paul Dyer.

Here's some more information from the architects:

Aptos Retreat Residence. Aptos, California

This project was designed for a San Francisco couple with six children – with ages ranging from high school to college. The property is located inland from the beach town of Aptos, California in the Santa Cruz Mountains, near the city of Santa Cruz.

The 20-acre site has ocean and mountain views and is about five miles inland from the Pacific Ocean. The family desired a setting that would be casual and rustic, and that would incorporate sustainable features to minimize the home's carbon footprint. Diverse activities were part of the design program, including; partying, cooking, tanning, swimming, archery, horseshoes, gardening, and wood-splitting.

The project has 2 primary buildings, plus accessory buildings and recreational components that were designed to work together as a country compound.

The 2800-square-foot Main House is composed of a ‘live building’ and a ‘sleep building’ that overlap at their roofs to create a linkage and sheltered outdoor space. The sleep building is slid under the higher roof of the live building. The live building contains the dining, living, and kitchen areas, plus a master suite upstairs. The central kitchen anchors the main space, which is flanked by dining and living. The kitchen island has an eighteen foot long, three inch thick single walnut slab countertop that has wany edges and was cut from a large fallen tree.

Two, triple sets of eight by ten foot sliding glass doors open this main living space to the yard and the views, creating a panoramic, 32-foot-wide clear opening when fully deployed. The smaller building, with two bedrooms and a shared bathhouse, angles out to form an L-shaped yard. Reclaimed barn wood and Corten rusted steel roofing covers the exterior of the buildings.

The interior is a composition of concrete floors, wood, stone, and steel.

The Barn is a 1600-square-foot, Corten rusted steel warehouse outfitted for use as the property's "clubhouse." The first floor is set up for ping pong and large-screen TV watching, and houses surfboards and other recreational beach equipment.

The loft level is set up with a billiard table and sofa beds all around for additional slumber party needs. The interior is a combination of the structural steel shell and the exposed wood loft.

The property itself pulls it all together. The house and barn sit on the sloped meadow surrounded by redwood trees and with distant ocean views to the south. The activity areas are arranged around the outside of the house and barn.

The swimming pool is below the main house, with a fire-pit to the side. The archery range is above the house, and the horseshoe pit is between the house and the barn. Two tent cabins are set among the redwoods and serve as guest houses. A sauna is located between the sleep building and the tent cabins.

The project incorporates the following sustainable features:

  • Solar thermal system for domestic hot water, the pool, and the hydronic radiant floor.
  • Reclaimed barn wood siding for all exterior walls.
  • Corten rusted steel, a high-content recycled product, for the roof of the main house, and for the walls and roof of the barn.
  • High performance windows
  • Natural ventilation.

Location: Aptos CA
New Residence, 2800 square feet
Barn, 1600 square feet.
Completion:July 2009

Architectural Team:
Design Principal - Cass Calder Smith
Project Architect - Tim Quayle

General Contractors: House, pool, overall: MBS Custom Builders. La Selva Beach, CA
Barn: Westport Builders. Santa Cruz, CA
Interior Designer: Lynn Ross Designs; San Rafael, CA
Landscape designer: Natalain Schwartz Designs; Capitola, CA
Structural Engineer: Ron Belknap; Coarsegold, CA
Civil Engineer: David Dauphin; Scotts Valley, CA
Solar: Solar Technologies; Santa Cruz, CA
Tent Cabins: Sweetwater Bungalows

See also:


Wooden House by
Atelier Martel
Ark House by
Axis Mundi
More architecture

Posted on Tuesday May 11th 2010 at 2:28 am by . Copyright policy | Comments policy

  • wasps

    beautiful, one of the best houses i have seen on here

  • J*

    Looks and feel great. But I can’t help thinking “why?” and “what a waste”… waste of reclaimed timber… shame. Also, are these really two roof-windows on the lower roof, just in the shadow of the higher one???

  • Juampi Z


  • Matthias

    Beautiful, but lacks consequence.
    1. “what a nice deck that upper roof would make above the lower building” was my initial thought. Then I realized that deck space is not an issue with this client.
    2. So this is just a formal arrangement of roofs – but then why didn’t the architect consider extending the ridge all across the building, instead of leaving 1/3 of its length to the ugly saltbox-like roof to the left?

  • soupload

    @ J*: Please explain yourself! Why fhs is this a waste? And what about the “why”? These people wanted to build a beautiful home and in my opinion they succeeded really great!

  • mcmlxix

    Overall, I think this project succeeds, it has a certain Usonian aesthetic to it in the interior public spaces, which integrate well with the pole barn like feel of the exterior, but there are a few things I don’t like:

    I find the overuse of blond wood interiorly to be oppressive (coffin-like) especially in picture 4.

    I don’t think the interior mix of rustic and Ikea-like elements harmonizes…not that they couldn’t…but in this execution, they don’t.

    Is that really a trough sink…what are the toilettes and showers like?

    In picture 12, the shed roof on the left bothers me, because such roofs are usually the result of an addition to an older house, but here it sticks out because it’s obviously not a later addition.

    Anyway, nice job.

  • How on earth they managed to pass Cali fire code is beyond me. Excellent work guys.

  • Felix

    “are these really two roof-windows on the lower roof”

    It would seem so; you can see the light shining out of them on the 3rd from last photo. Wasteful indeed.

    I like the exterior aesthetic very much, the corten roofs look so warm and earthy. Shame the interior doesn’t match up. Outside is a fallen down barn, inside is some bland , expensive japanese style wood fetish.

    It bugs me the skirting stops at the top of the staircase!

    Really want to see details of this, it looks very neat.

  • BRian

    This is a TYpical Northern California construction typology- nice space planning, but typical.


  • FM

    Interesting house!
    but.. what I don’t completely understand is the hanging roof over the second house.. waste of material and the concept of unity could’ve been solved without being so obvious.
    However, great house for parties and “wood-cutting”. :)

  • i agree with most comments above. I feel the extended roof would have had nice spatial/programmatic/functional consequences that would have been easily implemented. shame its not necessarily the case

  • Wonderful use of wood. I love it. Love the wood interiors as well.

  • The Broadcasting Tower in Leeds is an awesome example of what can be done using weathered steel. It's a beautiful building.