It should come as no surprise that when Apple’s Director of Store Design was in the market for a new house, he wanted a home that would be as modern and streamlined as his employer’s impeccable shopfronts. He, along with the team at Alchemy, tweaked the original designs of the Alchemy weeHouse to create the Sonoma weeHouse, a prefabricated home made up of two elevated open-sided boxes. The ultra-minimal home was swiftly assembled onsite between gnarled oaks and boasts fantastic views of the Santa Rosa valley in California.
The 970-square-foot Sonoma weeHouse is based on Alchemy’s original weeHouse modified with several customizations and finishing requirements by the San Francisco-based client, who is also an architect. While the home’s design was finalized in Minnesota by the Alchemy team, the structure was mostly prefabricated in Oregon before it was shipped, 90 percent complete, to its California site. The steel accessories, which include stairs, porch railings, and lasercut trim, were prefabricated in and shipped out from Minnesota.
The Sonoma weeHouse comprises two main modules—a 640-square-foot main house and a 330-square-foot accompanying guesthouse—set atop horizontally banded, board-formed concrete plinths. Both modules feature steel frames, nine-foot-tall sliding glass walls, custom corrugated weathering steel cladding, and ipe interiors with oiled oak cabinetry. The low-maintenance oxidized steel facade helps blend the home into the landscape of gnarled coastal oaks and seasonal grasses.
The main house contains a whitewashed oak box in the middle that houses the bedroom and divides the open kitchen, dining room, and living room on one end of the box from the toilet and shower on the other. Sliding glass doors connect the interior to an outdoor bolt-on porch that cantilevers into the dramatic landscape valley of Santa Rosa. A rear walkway connects the main house to the small guesthouse. Doors, privacy screens, and insect screens are recessed to minimize visual clutter.