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Project of the Week – The Diane Middlebrook Studios

Architect: CCS Architecture
Location: Woodside, California
Photo: Paul Dyer

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If this isn’t an aspiring writer’s paradise, we don’t know what is. As part of the renowned Djerassi Resident Artists Program, the Diane Middlebrook Studios host select scribes so they can focus on their respective prose for five-week intervals. And the setting could not be more ideal.

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Atop the spectacular Santa Cruz Mountains overlooking the Pacific Ocean, these four anti-procrastination pods protect aspiring writers from outside distractions and generate the kind of inspiration most would-be wordsmiths can only dream of.

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“Each of these is a womb with a view to the ocean,” explains Cass Calder Smith, principal at CCS Architecture. “However, it’s not just one building… it’s a quartet in a meadow with a halo.”

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Along with inspiring future laureates, one of Smith’s major design goals was honoring the project’s naturally stunning surroundings by leaving the smallest possible carbon footprint possible. With that in mind, the minimalist work/sleep cabins were built with sustainable systems and construction methods, including a freestanding, pre-engineered steel canopy that shades the cabins, shelters exterior circulation and supports a solar panel array.

IMG_9994In terms of sustainable building materials, Smith opted to wrap each studio in Select Knotty Western Red Cedar cladding and roofing. And since WRC is naturally resistant to rot, decay and insects, Smith decided to let the beautifully textured wood weather naturally without finish. This will allow the structures to be at one with the jaw-dropping scenery for decades to come.

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“It’s the perfect exterior siding… nice & warm when it’s new and then greys out perfectly,” says Smith, adding. “I also think it plays off the galvanized canopy very nicely and links to the meadows and trees beyond.”