The Sonoma weeHouse
Quick On The Rise
Sonoma Mountains, Northern California, USA

Catherine Ashbridge

Geoffrey Warner

The final decision to go the ‘simple and clean’ yet customised modular direction came about after the client discovered the weeHouse by Alchemy. Customising the design did come with challenges.

This unique modular getaway in the Sonoma Mountains, Northern California, was an exacting collaboration between two architects.  The client, an architect himself with precise and individual design ideas approached Geoffrey Warner, weeHouse founder and principal of Alchemy Architects, to undertake this project.

Sonoma weeHouse - Prefabricated, modular home designed by Alchemy Architects
Sonoma weeHouse - Prefabricated, modular home designed by Alchemy Architects

The owner could maintain quality control and price effectiveness going the prefabricated route, and cut down on numerous rural site visits to the remote property location. The final decision to go the ‘simple and clean’ yet customised modular direction came about after the client discovered the weeHouse by Alchemy. Customising the design did come with challenges. In the words of the client, “It was designed like a bespoke house but using all the knowledge and resources of the architect to ensure it could be factory built and transported as a modular home”.

Sonoma weeHouse - Prefabricated, modular home designed by Alchemy Architects
Sonoma weeHouse - Prefabricated, modular home designed by Alchemy Architects
Sonoma weeHouse - Prefabricated, modular home designed by Alchemy Architects

Alchemy incorporated the client’s wish list and precision details into the design. The core of the build was composed of two minimalist offset and open-sided boxes perched on a concrete plinth and set amongst entrenched oak trees and expansive views. Structural steel frames support heightened glass walls, creating the look of a delicate picture frame you can see right through. A cantilevered deck extends and hovers above the dramatic landscape.  This posed a new construction challenge and resulted in a separate module partially constructed in the factory and then attached onsite upon arrival.

Sonoma weeHouse - Prefabricated, modular home designed by Alchemy Architects
Sonoma weeHouse - Prefabricated, modular home designed by Alchemy Architects
Sonoma weeHouse - Prefabricated, modular home designed by Alchemy Architects

Large glass doors operate by sliding back into each other. Mechanical shades were added and the external walls were clad in custom pattern folds of corrugated Cor-Ten creating an organic, ‘in amongst nature’ feel. Interior ceilings and walls were lined with textured ipe wood for durability. The interior design layout includes a kitchen at one end, toilet and shower at the other, and unique white oak ‘bedbox’ in-between. The compact queen bed space – with clever concealed storage – was originally for the adults, however as the project evolved the design changed to see the addition of a completely separate master module next door.

Sonoma weeHouse - Prefabricated, modular home designed by Alchemy Architects

The module’s 58 sq m of interior space is complimented by the expansive deck overlooking the valley. This project really was given undivided design consideration, and that could be the result of two architects combining together to create the very best. With every concise detail worked through, factory built and then delivered to site, “this house really was built like a product”.

Credits

Words -

 Catherine Ashbridge

Photographer -

 Geoffrey Warner

Architecture -

 Alchemy Architects

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