West Coast Architecture Meets Rural Landscape

Article by Michelle Heslop and Adrienne Dyer. Photos by Jody Beck.

When the homeowners asked builder Tim Agar of Horizon Pacific Contracting for the best architect to design their light- filled West Coast modern home, he recommended Pamela Ubeda, principal and founder of Coast and Beam Architecture.

Nestled between farms and lush gardens, “the rural, two-acre property is quite exposed, with a warm micro-climate that suits the homeowners,” says Ubeda. Her approach to the project started with a topographical analysis on how to maximize natural light while creating privacy and ease of access to outdoor spaces. Ubeda describes contemporary West Coast architecture as an approach to design rather than a distinct aesthetic or style; it’s a particular vernacular for creating site-specific architecture.


For several months, Ubeda worked closely with the couple and Agar to design a layout that would accommodate a heavy traffic flow for the family of seven, yet provide ample separation for privacy when needed. “This was a complex home to design and build, and required a specialized team to create a stunning and structurally sound piece of West Coast architecture,” says Ubeda.

Setting the home back at the end of a long driveway for added privacy, Ubeda kept the garage and outdoor play areas tucked out of sight so that the architecture remains the focus upon approach to the house. Structuring the home as two rectangular wings connected by a tapered atrium, she states that “the wing design happened organically when we were considering the unique site- specific conditions and needs of the client.” With skylights, massive steel beams, and polished concrete floors, the atrium creates natural flow between all areas of the 8,000-square-foot house, with strategic placement of living areas.


Windows, skylights and the main indoor and outdoor living spaces are situated to take best advantage of the southern sun exposure. With ample space to play and acoustic division high on the client’s wish list, Ubeda placed five bedrooms and three bathrooms on the upper floor, with a two-storey playroom connected by a tube slide and climbing wall. The location of the staircase and playroom with slide gives the children easy access to the yard through the mudroom door.

Blurring the lines between indoor and outdoor spaces, large doors open onto outdoor areas protected by large overhangs, including an outdoor living room with a stone fireplace. Board-formed concrete siding offers zero- maintenance thermal protection, with wood-grain textural appeal that complements additional finishes, including stucco, wood and metal.


While the goal was to create an aesthetically striking facade, Ubeda demonstrates that contemporary architecture need not sacrifice functionality for a social and active family. The flow of the home was thoughtfully designed to allow the family to relax into their lifestyle in a way that harmonizes busy family life with a need for calmness and order, showcasing the full advantages of a thoughtful custom design.