The masterplan was developed by a combination of environmentalists, architects and landscape architects. Lawrence Halprin, landscape architect, was hired to study weather, the typography, climate and surrounding conditions, while various architects were hired to build a first round of buildings, setting an example of how properties could be developed within the complex. The original designers evolved a concept of ‘living lightly on the land’, which is reflected in the carefully situated buildings. They run horizontally, in line with the direction of the winds and the vegetation, nestling between the ragged cliffs and protective green.
Moore, Lyndon, Turnbull and Whitaker were invited to design "Condominium One" along the bluffs and a cluster of houses along a hedgerow was designed by Joseph Esherick. The architects and owners published guidelines for developing the properties in line with nature, along social common rules and enabling public access to the trail along the coast. A common sports compound and individual family houses were built, along with a chapel, also cladded with wood.
More information is available through the Sea Ranch Association. Large parts of the complex are private but the trails along the coast remain publicly accessible.
The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art produced a beautiful clip on The Sea Ranch, titled: "The Sea Ranch: Architecture, Environnment and Idealism".
A special note highlights the work of Barbara Stauffacher Solomon, who was a pioneering woman in charge of the graphic design not only of the logo and representation of The Sea Ranch, but also in charge of the large murals along the facades and interior walls of the properties. She is also the author of one of our favourite books, quoted in one of our Newsletters.
The text was written by PIONIRA, remembered from various sources over the years of using it as an architectural favourite reference. All images were scanned from GA Residential Masterpieces 29: MLTW - The Sea Ranch, California, 1963. GA A.D.A. Edita. Tokyo, 2019.
The built work of Alberto Ponis in Sardinia, where he has lived since 1964, is extraordinary in its sensitive understanding of surrounding. Built work by Ponis is among PIONIRA architecture favourites for its extreme dependency on the immediate topography and environment. Not only are raw materials essential in the exterior building process, but they also largely define the special interiors.