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Photo: Bruce Damonte

A Recycled Refuge: Art Studio in California

For more than ten years, Norwegian architect Casper Mork-Ulnes has been working with the collectors and artists Lars Richardson and Laila Carlsen. Originally, the clients had hired the architect to transform a dilapidated barn in Sebastopol, a town north of San Francisco, into an art studio. Because the barn could not be saved, the job turned into a multifaceted new construction project.

First, Mork-Ulnes replaced the old barn with a new building of the same size and similar materials, but with a different roof style. The north end of the building became a spacious, two-storey studio space. The indirect lighting is perfect for artistic work.

The studio building, which measures just under 250 m², uses a hybrid of wood-frame and steel skeleton constructions to span the large areas. The façades are clad with centenarian, weathered wooden planks which once graced another barn in the area. Some of the old wood left over from the demolition of the barn on the property was used for the furniture. Inside, economy dictated that plywood cover the walls. The roof is covered with Corten steel; its patina recalls the farm buildings found in this region. 


Three years later, Mork Ulnes Architects took on the job of expanding the studio by a dining room measuring 70 m². The Amoeba, as the architects christened this extension, forms the greatest possible contrast to the strict shape of the wooden structure. Its curved walls are made of 20-cm-thick sprayed concrete whose formwork texture can be seen on the façade. After the formwork, the shuttering boards, which also came from an old barn, were reused as fencing on another part of the property.


With its organic shape, scissor-shaped ceiling joists and flowerbeds integrated into the floor, this building recalls the houses of Bruce Goff or later work by Frank Lloyd Wright. The plants serve as a green room divider delimiting the kitchen from the dining area.

Kurze Werbepause

Planning of structural framework: Dave Rogina, Rogina Pestell

Engineering associate: Greg Ladigin, Casper Mork-Ulnes, Andreas Tingulstad, Nick Damner, Kyle Anderson

Planning of structural framework: Dave Rogina, Rogina Pestell

Engineering associate: Greg Ladigin, Casper Mork-Ulnes, Andreas Tingulstad, Nick Damner, Kyle Anderson

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