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Take in the views from inside this glass house

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A house in Marin, California is rooted in the hillside on which it sits and yet, from a distance, it also seems to hover just above the ground. Its dynamic tension between solidity and lightness — achieved through a simple palette of steel, glass, and concrete — illustrates the power of design. Called the C-Glass House, the name refers both to Philip Johnson’s iconic Glass House in New Caanan, Connecticut and to the translucent channel glass, which helps give the house its ethereal quality.

Designed by Los Angeles-based architecture firm Deegan-Day Design, the house speaks to the owner’s passion for the landscape. "From her point of view the important thing was her experience from within the home looking out and how it would allow her to live in this beautiful place with as few barriers, physical, visual, as she could have with this environment that she really loved," says Joe Day, design principal of Deegan-Day.

Set on 57 acres of rugged rolling hills with mountain and water views, the house is divided into two zones, the above ground 1,500-square foot main house, and the below ground 600 square foot guest house. The main house is a single volume with an open plan, divided by a pair of floating volumes containing the open kitchen and a full and half bath. The bed is inset into one of the volumes. "She actually talked about it as a kind of New York loft in the middle of nowhere — she wanted it to be this big open studio space where she could have everything all in one place," Day says.

The below-ground guest house, which is less visible, is clad in horizontally oriented corrugated metal with two pairs of large sliding glass doors overlooking the ocean. An exterior staircase connects the two dwellings. The architects have planned for a lap pool, which may be added later.

Channel glass is U-shaped cast glass, the shape of which gives it strength and stiffness. The architects put these structural qualities to good use, creating full expanses of glazing that could withstand the area’s high winds, which frequently get up to 100 miles per hour. The translucent panels are interrupted by sliding clear glass doors, which open directly out onto a small lawn overlooking the vista. A canopy provides sun shading. "The actual palette of the house is hyper neutral," he says." We thought a lot about how the glazing works. Actually, it shifts — it’s clear to the water and translucent to the land side, so it actually isn’t a crystal-clear house. It has some sense of enclosure to it."

In addition to Johnson’s Glass House, a dark steel and glass with an open plan and a single bedroom, the project also takes inspiration from the Farnsworth House by Mies van der Rohe, a white painted metal and glass home that appears to float above the landscape. The glass and metal sculptures made by the artists Dan Graham and Larry Bell, which investigated reflection and spatial perception, also informed the design. "For us the dialogue between art and architecture was maybe as important as the historical development of the glass house," Day says.

Further, the views and the play of light throughout the day are not static. A cloud or a ray of sun appears differently in clear glass versus translucent panels. "It isolates and amplifies and kind of curates the passage of time in an interesting way," he says.

Navigating the rugged rolling hills that surround the C-Glass House, the all-new Jeep Grand Cherokee Trailhawk's off-road Traction Control System allows for a seamless navigation through diverse conditions — five height settings for optimum handling.

The house also respects the landscape with an environmentally sensitive design. Solar panels top the roof, providing carbon-free electricity. A lack of air conditioning — it’s unnecessary in that climate, thanks to generous cross ventilation — means the solar panels provide enough energy for the house to function off the grid. Radiant heating provides efficient warmth and composting further reduces the house’s environmental footprint.

Inside, classic modern pieces like Eames shell chairs and tables and counters with clean-lines add to the serene atmosphere. The sleek black fireplace provides a focal point in the corner, and a grand piano floats in the living space like a piece of sculpture.

Most important, however, is the atmosphere the house creates for its owner. "I think there is something meditative about being up in that space and being oriented towards the ocean view," Day concludes. Design can be transporting.

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