Emulating Estuary

Ribera Road Residence

Winds roll off the sea and whip the long coastal grasses in Carmel into billowing waves. The distinctive texture and dynamic movement of these estuary grasses, visible in the distance, informed the design of this project. Capturing the context as an integral part of the experience links the home to its natural surroundings. This residential-scale project represents a meticulous exploration of framing and borrowing scenic vistas.

Situated on high ground, the property overlooks the expansive, rich bird sanctuary where the Carmel River meets the Pacific Ocean. In the distance, wooded foothills surround the property on three sides and a vast sky completes the fourth. The design objectives were to respond to these conditions by blending with the surrounding landscapes, employing environmentally friendly strategies, and screening neighboring properties.

Carmel’s cool summer Mediterranean climate emphasizes the need for drought-tolerant plants suitable to weave into the larger environmental fabric of the Monterey Peninsula.

The design includes durable materials to withstand the salt laden winds of the area. The porosity of the discreet pool fence preserves the distant views, providing an almost invisible barrier. The linearity of the decking pairs well with the board-form concrete and rectilinear sandstone building façade.

With such expansive views, minimizing neighboring dwellings was paramount. Screening trees, grasses, succulents, and shrubs that blend with the California Coastal ecoregion form the basis of the planting palette.

With a gently sloping site, the design allowed the natural, subtle curves of the land to dictate the flow, with many of the human-built elements acting as unobtrusive additions to the celebrated topography.

EYRC Architects

The strategic placement of the pool visually connects Carmel River to the homestead. A custom fully tiled infinity pool matching the color of the winding river water further draw the distant landscape into the site. Varied level outdoor platforms help straddle the unobstructed expanse against an embedded lounging experience. This landscape design operated within a relatively modest remodeling budget.


Carmel, CA


Ehrlich Yanai Rhee Chaney (EYRC) Architects


Matthew Millman


2023 AIA CA Residential Design Awards