The Riordan Ranch is located in the city of Napa, which was founded in 1847. It is the largest city of Napa County, California, and neighbour to some of the most prestigious vineyards in the world. However, for the past 30 to 40 years, the City of Napa has been in transition.
Historically the city was a sleepy town known more for its heavy industrial manufacturing facilities and a State Hospital; today’s workforce is mostly white collar and the economy is increasingly based on tourism. The site sits at the edge of the literal border between this transformation: from agricultural to urban. The site has a unique opportunity to negotiate two fundamental activities: consumption and production.
In order to allow for the two aspects of the site’s border condition, urban and agriculture, to co-exist, a series of ecological, urban, and performative studies resulted in an ‘urban’ framework that dictated were we could build and what would be left for agricultural production. In essence, the site would mimic the larger context in which is resides: the proximity between living and producing.
We have used two principles to drive the overall planning of the site: ecological regulations and the existing home. Regarding the former, via a rigours mapping exercise, we were able to define the different zones of intervention, from none to complete transformation. The existing home has been used to derive the basic module of the new home, as to create a formal continuity throughout the site.
Located in a rural setting, a pavilion in the woods, the building is both introverted and extroverted: each space has a relationship either to the internal platform or to the surrounding greenery and agriculture, while certain moments provide views of the Napa Valley Vineyards. With a pitched roof and a consistent floor level the new home shows a respect for the existing structure.
The building is designed as a sequence of connected pavilions - an arrangement that eliminates the need for corridors and hallways. The plan has been organised for the spaces to feel casual, almost carefree, allowing one to feel at ease and at home. At the same time the design also provides spaces for larger and more public events - either in the platform, or the pool and spa pavilion at the North edge of the site.