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Misty Court Hilltown

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California Senior Housing
Novato, Marin County, CA
Designed with Arterra Landscape Architects

The Vision
We envision a simple and elegant sculptural composition of earth and architecture that honors this unique site and gives voice to this most needed program. Upon visiting the site we imagined the creation of contemporary senior housing modeled after ancient hilltowns. The village would foster community among its residents and the greater neighborhood. All would be welcome to participate in the community marketplace, stroll the terraced hillside and share in the abundant harvest.

Site Response
This design proposes a sustainable use of land and resources by building within a small footprint, sharing resources and preserving open space. The Hilltown concept takes advantage of the sites natural topography and amenities, creating a landmark community. A pedestrian path links the site terraces and connects to the existing neighbors.

Sustainable Community
In a return to an agrarian way of being on the land, the residences of Misty Court Hilltown will celebrate the seasons with seasonal fruit harvests. Bringing together the community of Bahia, this event will enrich people of all ages. The new community center will provide a venue for a range of activities and events. The reservoir, winter ponds and the trail system linking the hilltop and the bay will be a local attraction inviting casual interaction between friends and neighbors.

Sustainable Landscape
The inspiration for the site is a terraced orchard hillside, juxtaposed within a native oak grassland. We envision a working agrarian landscape near the buildings, with trees radiating in bands down the hill. These orchards will provide fruit, air filtration, privacy and summer shade. Water collection and conveyance is visible and integrated into the design. Water is collected and re-used throughout the site, including a system of cisterns and a series of reservoirs and winter ponds. Impervious surfaces are minimized, allowing for maximum recharge of ground water table. New plantings are low maintenance, low water/no water and sun/wind/drought tolerant.

Sustainable Homes
Situated on three primary terraces, the housing units interlock and terrace down the hillside creating a variety of private gardens and public courts for parking and landscape features. Oriented to the view, each unit also has extensive south facing glazing for passive solar heat gain. The rammed earth enclosure is a passive energy system that requires no maintenance. The thermal mass from the wall eliminates the need for air conditioning and radiates heat at night. The green roofs provide passive insulation, slow water runoff and extends the natural habitat.