by Byron Kuth, Elizabeth Rainieri, and Mitchell Schwarzer
Situated on a vineyard in the flatlands of the Napa Valley, in St. Helena, California, the Lodi Bunkhouse's narrow parcel parallels the Napa River and abandoned Southern Pacific rail line. The bunkhouse's planning, fenestration, and assembly reverberate with the site's inherent orders of directionality and scale. Functioning as an artist's retreat, the program includes open studios, communal domestic zones, and individual bunkrooms.
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The organization is dominated by a continuous central void running the length of the shed to connect the interior with two distinct landscapes: a grove of hawthorn trees to the north and vineyards to the south. Additionally, the space is a circulator, sponsoring flexible and fluid patterns of inhabitation, use, and activity.
The thickening of the building envelope, with its exterior membrane of semitransparent fiberglass, reveals a sublayered network of structure, fenestration, and sheathing. Its rectangular apertures are regularized in an offset pattern, dispersing filtered sunlight by day and emitting a luminous pattern by night.
The front facade fully opens; airplane hangar industrial doors to the north and garage door systems to the south take advantage of the prevailing summer winds and passively cool the thermal mass of the concrete base.
The structural approach is integrated with both passive and active environmental systems, such as heating water through a piped solar-system between the structural plywood sheathing and the exterior's semitransparent corrugated skin. The extended shade canopy to the south also supports an array of photovoltaic cells, providing for the building's energy requirements.
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This article is excerpted from Kuth/ Ranieri Architects by Byron Kuth and Elizabeth Ranieri, copyright © 2010, with permission of the publisher, Princeton Architectural Press.