Rau Haus by Feldman Architecture in Portola Valley, California

Project: Rau Haus
Feldman Architecture
Portola Valley, California, United States
3,433 sf
Year: 2023
Photographs by:
Adam Rouse

Rau Haus by Feldman Architecture

Embracing the call of wide-open spaces, a couple yearning for tranquility sought Feldman Architecture to craft their retreat from the city’s hustle. With a plot offering sweeping vistas over Coal Creek Open Space Preserve, the vision unfurled – a modern haven immersed in rolling hills, a rare glimpse of the San Francisco Bay in the distance. Thoughtfully placed living spaces pay homage to these views, cocooning within privacy from the neighboring lots.

The L-shaped, 3,433 square foot dwelling elegantly nestles into the hillside, creating outdoor enclaves while framing nature’s beauty within. Volume and light dance in harmony, crafting an environment where indoor and outdoor seamlessly intertwine. Low-maintenance materials, like Monterey Cypress siding and cement cladding, mirror the landscape’s enduring essence, while sustainable systems, including solar panels and passive heating, ensure harmony with nature. In every corner, Rau Haus stands as a testament to the union of design, nature, and mindful living.

A couple with a young daughter looking to leave the city in search of more space contacted Feldman Architecture to design a new home – a modern, secluded residence with a dedicated zone for hosting family and friends. With a site selected with sweeping views over Coal Creek Open Space Preserve, the team’s vision centered around completely immersing visitors in rolling green hills while offering a rare, distant glimpse of the San Francisco Bay to the north. The design centers around thoughtfully orienting public and private living spaces towards views while creating a sense of privacy from the neighboring lots above. The 3,433 square foot L-shaped building footprint is gently tucked into the eastern hillside, creating an enclosure for outdoor moments, and framing a wide array of views from indoor living spaces.

The volumes are carefully articulated to minimize disruption of views from the surrounding properties. The primary wing runs north to south, expanding vertically at a double-height kitchen and dining space while visually connecting the main level to a study loft and bedrooms upstairs. Light wells and clerestory windows on the eastern façade welcome morning light and offer peeks of greenery without compromising privacy. A single-story form topped by a green roof stretches perpendicularly – blending into the surrounding landscape and creating a multipurpose space at pool level for playing, exercising, and entertaining. The infinity pool acts as a threshold where the manicured landscape merges into the native meadow-scape.

Bay views to the north are captured from the primary suite, and publicly from a view deck. It was important for the clients that this roof deck was publicly accessible without compromising the privacy of their bedroom. Low-maintenance, durable materials define the material palette: exterior cement clads the second story, and Monterey Cypress siding, intended to weather over time, elegantly connects the main level. The cement plaster and Cypress bars stack geometrically, blending into the interior – understated, modern, and clean materiality sets the tone for the interior and landscape moments.

At Rau Haus, a 6.24kW PV array provides the home with 9,777 kWh of renewable energy a year, and two Heliodyne solar panels serve a 119-gallon storage tank. The home is equipped with all electric indoor appliances and an electric heat-pump HVAC system, combined with passive heating and cooling strategies, work to keep the home temperate throughout the year. The design makes use of deep overhangs and inset windows to provide passive solar shading, and thoughtfully placed operable doors, windows, and skylights promote cross-ventilation in all habitable spaces. Outdoor patios with varying degrees of shading throughout the home allow for comfortable use during different times of the day. Locally salvaged and milled Monterey cypress siding is naturally weathered with no additional finish, and all concrete is mixed with 30% fly ash to reduce the project’s embodied carbon.

“This project allowed us to craft a space of serenity, well-balanced with a design that creates horizontal and vertical connections within and towards the landscape. It was expertly executed by the builder who crafted details and material connections with wonderful care and precision,” Steven Stept, AIA, Project Principal. – “Beneath the quiet design sensibility is a rigorous articulation of forms and spaces that are precisely detailed within a tightly curated material palette. The house embraces the spirit of the site and sets the stage for daily life to unfold,” Anjali Iyer, LEED AP, Project Architect.

Feldman Architecture


Tags: California, contemporary, exterior, Feldman Architecture, interior, luxury, minimalist, modern, Portola Valley

Author: Fidan Jovanov


A young enthusiast with a passion for home decor and architecture, I love writing articles that inspire and guide readers in transforming their spaces into stylish, functional, and beautiful environments.


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