Three main walls follow the curve of the tree-covered hill behind the residence. They are made of rammed earth – layers of damp earth compressed in moulds to form load-bearing walls – resulting in the layered coloured effect.
Stone-walled volumes of varying sizes attach to the rammed-earth structures, making up the rest of the house. Copious glazing slots into the stone walls to open up views to the surrounding farmland, as well as the distant hills along the San Andreas tectonic fault – which runs down the America's Pacific Coast.
"This family retreat nestles amidst the grazing livestock of a thriving walnut farm," said Feldman Architecture.
"From the base of a large hill, the house opens up to eastward views of rolling hills along the San Andreas Fault," they added. "Three long, gently arcing rammed earth walls anchor both the indoor and outdoor spaces to the site."
The house belongs to grandparents who wanted to be able to host their children, grandchildren and other guests. Inside the residence, the stone walls mark the partition between communal areas for socialising from more private spaces, like bedrooms.
The entranceway is defined by a fourth wall made of stone, which is built at the front of the residence and curves in the opposite direction to the rammed earth walls.
The pathway it creates leads through the door to a kitchen and an office. An open-plan, double-height living and dining room are placed on the other side.
The corner of the dining room is glazed, with sliding doors that open onto a garden at the back of the house.
Inside, a pair of steps lead from the dining room to the adjoining lounge, where another rammed-earth wall separates it from a second family room and an adjoining children's bunk bedroom.
A staircase from the lounge goes up to the first floor. Upstairs, an elevated walkway expands into nooks at each end – one for a study and the other for a sitting area – and bridges the master bedroom and the guest bedroom.
The steps and the walkway are made of wood, to complement the tones of the rammed earth, and the structure is raised on Y-shaped black steel columns. Slatted timber lines the ceiling above, where wooden beams are braced by a similarly black steel structure.
The guests' portion of the residence is set to the rear of the house on the ground floor. It includes a pair of identical bedrooms separated by en-suite bathrooms, with windows to the view. Guests also have their own kitchenette including a sofa and a dining table, and a small patio.
One of the main structural walls extends from here to the swimming pool, which is accompanied by a pavilion that offers shade to an outdoor dining table. A set of steps also climbs up to another patio.
The windows of the house face south to bring in plenty of daylight, and naturally warm the earthen walls and concrete flooring inside. Overhanging roofs and external blinds offer shade to the residence from strong sunlight.
These are among one of the environmentally conscious decisions that Feldman Architecture made for the residence, which has net-zero energy consumption. Geothermal energy powers heating and cooling systems, while photovoltaics fitted on the roof provide solar power.
Spring Ranch is marked with a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Gold performance rating – one of the highest ranking in the US – in recognition of its eco-friendly design.
Feldman Architecture recently completed another residence in California, which features wooden cladding residence and garage-door windows.
Colorado architecture firm Studio B took cues from Denver's old bungalow homes to create this low-lying residence faced with handmade brick, walnut panelling and large panes of glass.
The Brick City House is located on a corner lot dotted with oak, willow and maple trees. It is situated within the city's Sunnyside neighbourhood, an older district dominated by brick bungalows with large porches. The architects set out to create an "interpretative piece of architecture" that respects the local context, in contrast to other new developments in the area.
"In opposition to many of the newer, large-scale and overly complex projects with generic building materials typically being constructed in the neighbourhood recently, this project is smaller and lower profile," said Studio B Architecture + Interiors, which has offices in the Colorado towns of Aspen and Boulder.
The team conceived a low-lying box faced with dark bricks supplied by a company in Italy. The masonry helps strengthen the home's connection to its historic neighbours.
"This project draws its material palette from the surrounding, smaller-scale brick bungalows and implements handmade brick – a low-maintenance, high-quality and durable material of striking natural beauty," the team said.
The brick was paired with warm-hued walnut panelling and large expanses of glass, which lighten up the facades. The entrance elevation was slightly cut away, resulting in a recessed front door and a terrace that engages the home with its surroundings. The concrete foundation was left exposed in order to ground the building to the site.
Rather than a traditional backyard, the team created an interior courtyard, which was formed by extracting the centre of the rectangular volume. The outdoor space contains a slender pool, an in-ground fireplace, and a lounge area. Retractable glass walls line the courtyard and provide a seamless connection between inside and out.
"The house turns inward toward the courtyard and pool, with a connection to nature by focusing upward on the sky," the team said. "This concept is inspired by modern artists' exploration into the connection of the sky, earth and proportion."
Encompassing 4,600 square feet (427 square metres), the home has a master suite and guest bedroom on its ground level, along with an open-plan living, dining and cooking area. A basement contains an additional bedroom, a media room, an office, and a wine cellar. The interiors are defined by a neutral colour palette and streamlined decor.