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Aidlin Darling Design:也许我的满足取决于我的离开,所以当我回来的时候,我会发现它就在家里。——鲁米(13世纪苏菲派诗人)

Aidlin Darling Design:It may be that the satisfaction I need depends on my going away, so that when I’ve gone and come back, I’ll find it at home. – Rumi (13th century Sufi poet)


© Bruce Damonte





Inherent in the idea of creating a retreat are imbedded concepts of privacy, safety and refuge. By creating a private space away from the frenetic rhythms of the everyday, one finds the possibility to relax, to reconnect with oneself and more completely understand the natural environment that is all around. It is through this separation from the everyday, this quieting of the mind, that a deeper connection is understood with the self. The building seeks to foster self discovery not only by creating a sense of privacy through it’s many protective layers, but once inhabited, aspires to dissolve away . . . leaving the inhabitant and nature to become reacquainted.


© Bruce Damonte





The Sonoma Retreat was created as a private exercise, meditation and relaxation space for a businessman and his family. The building, while adjacent to the main house, was sited far enough away to provide complete privacy while in use. The program involved the creation of a primary meditation / workout / yoga studio with an adjacent steam room, changing rooms, bathroom, refreshment bar, private sundeck and an outdoor shower.


© Bruce Damonte
© Bruce Damonte
© Bruce Damonte





Located on ten acres of rolling hillside above the town of Sonoma in Northern California this private retreat is a freestanding structure adjacent to an existing rammed earth house. Partially hidden amongst a grove of Oaks, Manzanita and Madrone, two curved earthen walls gently carve into the landscape to create the entry to the intimate retreat below. Topography, orientation and landscape are all considered in the choreography of experience, heightening one’s sense of discovery, privacy and ultimately the serenity of escape.


© Marion Brenner
© Aidlin Darling Design
© Bruce Damonte



The building’s form is defined by a collection of simple rustic cedar boxes that provide a counterpoint to the surrounding landscape. These boxes not only define and anchor the contiguous spaces, but they create apertures that act as the entry to the retreat and outdoor shower. The rectilinear forms are in turn cradled by the curving walls, which allow the resultant space to burrow into the earth. A wood deck of reclaimed teak extends interior space out into the landscape, obscuring the boundaries between inside and outside. The siting of the architecture and the configuration of the plan use the building’s mass and the natural topography to screen the retreat from the existing house while retaining panoramic views to the southeast. A canopy of cantilevered lodgepole pine floats above the roof, providing much needed shade to the southern face of the building and its’ sundeck. Trees to the south provide additional dappled shade at times opening to reveal the nearby foothills and views of San Francisco beyond.


© Bruce Damonte





The retreat was carefully sited amongst the existing trees to minimize the building’s impact on the tree’s fragile root network while also taking advantage of the shade the trees provide. Deep roof overhangs allow for solar heat gain in the Winter and provide shade from the intense California sun during the Summer. The curved board formed concrete walls also aid in regulating temperature by providing additional thermal ballast that helps to maintain the interior temperature. When weather permits, the entire south and east glazed facades slide away and completely retract into the walls. This facilitates airflow through the building and eliminates the need for conditioned air.


© Chris Gramly
© Chris Gramly
© Chris Gramly



The building’s cedar skin is constructed as a rain screen and deters the capillary action from driving rain found in typical construction. This allows the building to breath, ultimately leading to greater longevity.

Many of the finished materials within the retreat are reclaimed. The floors, decks and benches came from reclaimed teak timbers. The stone basins within the steam room and changing room were carved from larger pieces of reclaimed limestone.

Finally much of the building’s yearly electrical load is offset by an array of photovoltaic solar panels that are hidden from view on the southern slope of the site.


平面图 Master Plan

© Aidlin Darling Design

Photographer: Chris Gramly, Bruce Damonte, Marion Brenner.


建筑设计:Aidlin Darling Design
合伙人主管 – Joshua Aidlin, David Darling
项目建筑师 – Paul Baird
项目团队成员 – Kent Chiang
承包商:Burlington Construction Inc.
结构工程:Berkeley Structural Design
土木工程:Lescure Engineers Inc.
景观设计/建造:June King

Architect: Aidlin Darling Design
Joshua Aidlin, David Darling – Partners in charge
Paul Baird – Project Architect
Kent Chiang – Project Team
Contractor: Burlington Construction Inc.
Structural Engineer: Berkeley Structural Design
Civil Engineer: Lescure Engineers Inc.
Landscape Design / Build: June King


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