“The purpose of all architecture,” writes Christopher Alexander, “is to encourage and support life-giving activity, dreams, and playfulness. But in recent decades, while our buildings are technically better–more sturdy, more waterproof, more energy efficient– they have also became progressively more sterile, rarely providing the kind of environment in which people are emotionally nourished, genuinely happy, and deeply contented.” Excerpt from Christopher Alexander’s book The Battle for the Life and Beauty of the Earth: A Struggle Between Two World-Systems (Center for Environmental Structure).
Alexander and the owners of Sunrise Gardens created such a spot that brings the playful, yet ecologically sound mind together into one enjoyable property in West County. Bridging the gap between art, architecture, magnificent gardens and sustainability is no easy feat. Christopher Alexander, whose talent created such a masterpiece in a West County home, is a testament to his profound talent and the appreciation for beauty that comes from what is already there.
High on an east facing ridge in west county this unique property has sweeping views of vineyards and redwood forests that lead the eye across the Sonoma plain to the Mayacamas and Sonoma Mountains toward Napa. Seven acres of garden sanctuary deeply rooted in a sustainable and ecological approach, called permaculture, is home to many heirloom fruit trees, berries, and lavender. Beauty, functionality and good stewardship of the land is all part of the philosophy of these certified organic gardens. Underlying the landscape is a carefully designed series of swales and channels that minimize erosion and maximize percolation of runoff into the groundwater. A pond on the southeast part of the property acts as a settling pond before water runs into the headwaters of Atascadero Creek.
Alexander’s creation uses passive solar design, thick walls made from shot-crete, and recycled, sustainable materials are also used as much as possible. The idea of taking these recycled materials and creating something completely unique and original with them is one that Alexander embraces. In this home, the wood floors in the living room are constructed using recycled mahogany from crates originally used by the company Sunkist to bring tuna to California at the turn of the 20th century, and the upstairs floors are made from old-growth redwood from chicken coops in Petaluma. The stunning kitchen cabinets in the gourmet kitchen and the stairway are made from a sustainable form of eucalyptus, and the redwood used on the outside of the office wing was recycled from an old farmhouse built in the 1880’s. Many of the other floors are acid-etched concrete with radiant heat.
The attention to reuse, beauty, and a love of the land is present in every detail of this extraordinary property and we would be happy to share it with you. Bring your playful side or even your earth-conscious side, both will be in awe of Alexander’s talent, the original owners’ vision, and a little bit of heaven tucked in West County.