Designed for peaceful contem-plation, these serene structures are a healthy distance from the main house on a 2.2-acre site overlooking Silicon Valley. The client, a high-tech executive, wanted a place to unclutter his mind and render it open to big ideas. This idyllic position below a ridge and under a grove of California oaks, was just the spot.

Inspired by spatial and structural concepts often seen in Japanese architecture, the three simple volumes (two of which are connected by a bridge) designate specific realms for sleeping, meditating, and working. Seeming to float above the landscape, each steel-framed glass box cantilevers out over the hillside, touching the ground only via a U-shaped cast-in-place concrete support. This small footprint approach not only protected the native oaks’ delicate root systems, but gave each pavilion the semblance of a tree house. A simple palette of contrasting materials—metal, glass, reclaimed cedar, and board-formed, wire-brushed concrete—enhance the feeling of oneness with nature.

“We wanted to express the idea that the buildings are treading lightly on the land,” says architect Bob Swatt. “There is a certain poetry in playing up the contrast of heavy and light, anchoring and hovering, tent and cave.”