Skip to main content

Built Around Boulders, Creek House Blends Japanese and Brutalist Elements

Joe Fletcher/Faulkner Architects

A rocky, boulder-covered plot is a challenging spot to build a house. And it’s even more challenging when the clients ask that those boulders stay intact. That was the problem the team at Faulkner Architects was presented with when designing Creek House. Not only were they able to preserve every boulder, the team found inventive ways to build the home around — and over — the natural outcroppings to create a dramatically beautiful home.

Located in Truckee, California, Creek House was designed to be a serene retreat among the pine trees. From afar, the home appears to be an imposing concrete form filled with hard edges. There are Brutalist revival elements like concrete privacy walls and a dark color palette thanks to the use of blue limestone and black steel. There is a heaviness to the long rectangular house often found in Brutalist designs. But look closer and you find a playful balance between light and dark, heavy and soft that adds a zen-filled vibe to Creek House.

The apparently stark exterior of the home is balanced by the incorporation of Japanese elements, creating a peaceful escape in the mountains. Outside, there are two rock gardens, one of which is surrounded by a pool of water designed to capture snowmelt. Bordered by towering privacy walls but open to the sky, this pool of water reflects light, creating a bright space that can be viewed from the master bedroom thanks to a cube of glass that juts into the space. In contrast, the second rock garden plays in the shadows, covered by the home which cantilevers out on the western side. 

Inside, the Japanese influence is even more prevalent. In a room leading to the western rock garden, tatami mats have been laid on the floor, creating a spiritual connection between inside and out. Respecting nature is an important aspect of Japanese design, and this was gracefully achieved in Creek House because the team at Faulkner creatively built the home over and around the volcanic boulders found on site. Keeping the interior hues neutral also created a connection to the outside, with bright colors coming from the trees that surround the home and the blue sky above. 

Joe Fletcher/Faulkner Architects

Throughout the home, the play of light and shadow can be seen. The open-plan family room with its double-height ceiling is filled with natural light thanks to massive windows. The black-framed windows feel like a gentle nod to the black-framed shoji screens of traditional Japanese homes. It’s an effect that draws attention away from the neutral interior color palette and toward the windows, which frame beautiful views of the stunning landscape outside. While the family room is bright and airy, the hallway leading to one of the bedrooms feels dark and intimate thanks to the low ceiling. 

Ultimately, the folks at Faulkner Architects were able to achieve the seemingly impossible. Creek House not only preserves the beauty and tranquility of the land, it adds to it by respecting nature and fully embracing all that it has to offer.

Editors' Recommendations

Kelsey Machado
Former Digital Trends Contributor
Kelsey is a professional interior designer with over a decade of experience in the design field. With a passion for…
Jason Statham Lives in a Surprisingly Low-Key House and Now It Could Be Yours
jason statham black house for sale 7

There aren’t many Hollywood stars as badass as Jason Statham. The action movie actor has made a name for himself by being tough and kicking bad guys’ butts over a career that has spanned nearly three decades. With the Machiavellian attitude typical of the characters he plays on screen, you would expect his house to be a brooding brutalist man cave with knives and guns hanging on the walls in place of artwork. But the down-to-earth actor actually calls an oceanside, zenful retreat home -- and now it could be yours.

Dubbed Black House, Statham’s home is currently up for sale and asking just under $20 million. It’s been his place to unwind after a day on set since 2009. Decked out in a stylish combo of mid-century modern meets cool California vibes, Black House is surprisingly bright and airy on the inside. It’s the outside that gives the home its name. 

Read more
Check Out This Dramatically Angular Glass Cabin in Norway
efjord cabin glass house norway snorre stinessen architecture 3

Imagine your ideal hideaway. Is it a lodge surrounded by mountains or a waterfront cabin? What if you didn’t have to choose? One island abode lets you take in every kind of landscape, in any season. Efjord Cabin is a year-round retreat that soaks up all of the stunning scenery Norway has to offer.

Located on the small island of Halvarøy, Efjord Cabin is the brainchild of Snorre Stinessen Architecture. With few other inhabitants and stunning vistas all around, Stinessen was able to create a one-of-a-kind, year-round glass cabin for his clients. A natural ledge provided the perfect spot to position the home, taking in two of Norway’s best climbing peaks to the south and a view of a fjord to the west. A ridge in the terrain to the east helps protect the cabin from harsh weather. This spot also lets the home take advantage of the sun throughout the day - warming rooms and filling them with natural light. Using a design that visually alternates between opening up or closing off the outside, Stinessen provided his clients with panoramic views while also offering privacy and the feeling of seclusion that they wanted.

Read more
A Renovation Turned This Dreary Space Into a Stylish Urban Abode
olivier nelson residence nature humaine architecture design 7

If you’ve ever strolled the streets of Montreal, you know it’s a city of contradictions. While the downtown business district is packed with modern skyscrapers lining the St. Lawrence River, stepping into the surrounding historic neighborhoods is like traveling back in time to 1800s France. Narrow streets are lined with little shops, quaint cafes, and traditional European-style row houses. In this old-meets-new city, one rundown duplex received a thoroughly contemporary makeover that makes it stand out from its neighbors yet perfectly match the vibe of Montreal.

Renovated in 2019 by the team at Nature Humaine Architecture and Design, the Olivier Nelson Residence was originally a duplex row house. Sandwiched between two other homes, the interior was dark, almost cave-like, the layout wasn’t functional, and the design was dated. The team at Nature Humaine turned the structure into a brightly lit single-family home.

Read more