Lake Tahoe, NV
ArchitectCosta Brown Architecture, Inc.
San Francisco, California
Sheet Metal ContractorHeather & Little Limited
Wovoka is named for the Northern Paiute mystic who was born in the Smith Valley area of Nevada in 1856 and whose religious pronouncements spread the Ghost Dance among Native American tribes across the West. Wovoka's principle of living in harmony and truth was the owner's personal inspiration, and it laid the foundation for the project. The objective was to develop a home that was both innovative and in accordance with its location: its pattern geometry should honor the towering topography of the Sierra Nevada; its aesthetic should be respectfully borrowed from the region's first peoples.
The program was a unique, three-structure residential compound on the shores of Lake Tahoe: a single-level accessible home with a master bedroom and two guest suites; a six-car garage with a workshop and caretaker's unit; and a beach and boathouse structure at the water's edge.
The architect sought unique solutions to meet the program objectives. When they could not source existing technologies that met their needs, they developed their own.
Copper was chosen as the metal of choice due to its natural ability to transition in harmony with the landscape and the seasons. Over time it transforms from a shiny copper to a penny-brown to a verdigris-green that matches, in turn, the sunlight, tree trunks and foliage. Some materials get uglier with age, but copper gets more beautiful. Copper is utilized for the following architectural features: entry gate - one enters the site through a motorized gate with interlocking panels of copper sheets and mesh; and roof - which comes into view when nearing the lake. The roof is made of custom-designed tree-branch-stamped 20-ounce copper shingles, approximately 18" x 48", and interlocked standing seams (set on a diagonal to resist ice dam formation). The copper shingles are used on all of the roofs throughout the project, including the garage and gatekeeper's house, the main house, the rear-yard gazebo and beach/boat house awnings; roof fascia - the edge of the roof articulates the copper panel seams with an extension of cold roof beams called batten points. These highly sculptural batten points on every structure create dynamic light and shadow patterns (depending on the position and angle of the sun) on the building facade and ground throughout the site; chimney caps and finial - the chimney caps are made of copper inside and out. Atop the main chimney is a nine-foot copper finial designed in the angular Wovoka motif; front door - the teak front door is surrounded by inlaid copper panels and is topped by a copper-framed window; garage doors - custom copper panel garage doors with overlapping batten details and colored-glass diamond windows provide a rich and long lasting garage facade. The copper work associated with this project was truly created by hand. Most of the panels, roof-edge batten points, and details were fitted on site by excellent copper craftsmen using an on-site break to fabricate the interlocking copper system and connections. The interlocking panel system (with no soldering) allows for panel movement (expansion and contraction), designed to increase longevity for many generations.
Architectural Categories: Exotic or Unusual Applications, Standing Seam Roofs and Walls