• hidden villa lodge
    • hidden villa model
    • Hidden Villa south view
    • Hidden Villa rammed earth wall
    • Hidden Villa kitchen
    • Hidden Villa diagram
    • Hidden Villa dining hall
    • Hidden Villa north canyon
    • Hidden Villa kitchen entry
    • Hidden Villa section
    • Hidden Villa dining room
    • Hidden Villa porch

Hidden Villa Youth Hostel & Summer Camp Facility

Los Altos Hills, CA

Despite its constrained site, the design for the new Hostel provides flexible spaces that address the extreme temperature range of its micro-climate while harmonizing with the character of Hidden Villa – an environmental education foundation and organic farm.

Replacing the undersized hostel building built in 1941, the new facility is sited in a narrow drainage between existing cabins and a large sacred “climbing tree” to the west. The structure is pulled to the north side of the site to gain usable open space to the south and maximize winter solar gain. The most prominent volume, the Dining Hall, is sized for winter use, but expands into the screen porch space to the west via large bi-fold doors when summer camp is in session. High, natural ventilation as well as concrete slab floors and a rammed earth wall along the north mediate the extreme temperatures. A Geo-thermal radiant floor system provides heating, cooling and hot water. The building is also a model of site-sensitive ecological design in its materials – wood – salvaged from the exiting hostel building and from “tear-downs” common in the south bay.

Bringing the playful, educative, community-oriented spirit of Hidden Villa to structures that harmonize with the site’s agrarian precedent, the new hostel nurtures environmental awareness by demonstrating sustainability first hand.

Awards and Publications

AIA COTE Top 10 Green Project, 2003
AIACC Design Award, 2003
AIACC Savings by Design Energy Efficiency Integration Award, 2003
Directions 04, Spring/Summer 2007

Design Team

Contractor: Cowan Gentry Construction
Photographer: Edward Caldwell