If you had the opportunity to design another Fallingwater, what would it look like? Fougeron Architecture faced just this question with Suspension House, an extensive remodel to a deeply flawed existing house spanning a creek bed in Napa Valley, California. “You can build something supermassive and grounded that comes out of the earth, or you can build a more ethereal, vaporous thing,” says Anne Fougeron, FAIA. Guess which path the firm chose?
“We don’t do classic modern,” Anne explains. “We tend to do something more related to the site or the client, something that looks to the future of what houses should be like or could be like.” Current codes make it impossible to build over creeks anymore, but the architects and clients were able to rebuild almost anew—by following the footprint of the existing building and by restoring the creek bed. They were also allowed to add 50 percent more square footage, so the house rises up an additional level; and a small cottage and carport replace an existing garage.
The main building is now properly anchored into the rock on flanking slopes and suspended over the creek. The “vaporous” transparency is achieved in part with custom Swiss window systems from Sky-Frame. At the front entry, slightly mottled glass siding emits a shimmering glow not unlike the movement of water beneath the house.
Immersed in nature and hovering above the stream, Suspension House is Fallingwater’s lighter, loftier reflection.
Project: Suspension House; project size: 2,500 square feet, plus a 340-square-foot cottage; site size: 1.04 acres; architect: principal Anne Fougeron; project architect Todd Arnaz, Fougeron Architecture; general contractor: Dermot Barry, Barry Builders, San Francisco; structural engineer: Endrestudio, Emeryville, California.