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"The Egg House"
Cathy Julian Residence

Orick, California USA


This project is an example of an individual who had a definite image in mind but did not know if it were possible to build according to her mind's vision. The owner, a writer and reflective philosopher, has for many years been enamored with the egg shape, which is one of nature's most structurally efficient and energy conservative designs. The shape is especially appropriate given the site's vulnerability to winds and possible earthquake. The shape minimizes materials use while maximizing structural strength. It is a very aerodynamic shape with a high strength-to-weight ratio while affording 360 views over this spectacular site which is located on a steep hillside overlooking a fresh water lagoon and the Pacific ocean about 100 meters distance from the house. The owner wished to have a meditative, cozy and exuberant place to work and live--a place that is both cavernous and intimate in feeling. A continuous helical ramp circulates throughout the interior periphery of the house and is expressed outwardly as a helical rain trough to direct rainwater into a catch basin. This helical ramp also acts as a structural reinforcing brace to reinforce the thin walls of the building. Rainwater is purified and used as drinking water inside the house. The ground level entrances are the most public and open onto outdoor terraces and walkways to the hillside below.

An outdoor bathing tub and fireplace are located at the lower terrace level. Center swivel doors form colored glass mural passageways. The lower terrace structure is supported by an asymmetrical catenary arch, which spans two small hills of the site. A generous sized guest area occupies most of the ground level. An elevator can also be used to stop between floors. All spaces beneath the helical ramps are used for storage. The two upper levels contain the private office and bedroom spaces. A large rotunda dome bathes the interior with natural light. All of the interior ramps railings are made of steel rebar left bare and sculpturally bent into finely proportioned works of art. Natural light travels through the upper levels to reach the floors below. All in all the spatial feeling is light and airy. The helical ramps define the space yet brings ones eye outside beyond them. The house is at once a flexible universe within yet extends itself outwards--a mutual and poetic collaboration with nature on a breathtaking site for an extraordinary individual.


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