Ten thousand Pascale Watershed Block combined by architect Juliet Hsu to build a private residence in Napa, California - the first constructed entirely from Watershed Block. The Pascale Watershed Block is comprised of quarry fines from Nun’s Canyon and crushed rhyolite from the BoDean quarry, both in the Mayacamas Mountains of eastern Sonoma County. The variegated tans and browns of the Pascale Watershed Block emerge from the blend of the two rock products - the dark brown, coarse character of the rhyolite is softened with the lighter, smoother Nun’s Canyon fines. We combine these mineral aggregates then subject them to ultra high compression and a new piece of stone is formed - a process nearly identical to how sedimentary rock is created in nature. Image © Mark Luthringer.
Sixty percent of the ten thousand Pascale Watershed Blocks are standard 8x8x16’s. Thirty percent are 6x8x16’s and ten percent are 4x8x16’s. By varying the height of the blocks as well as the one-over-two pattern of the typical running bond, architect Juliet Hsu broke a masonry mindset to create a structure bridging the look of precisely cut ashlar stone with modern block style. Image © Mark Luthringer.
Dwell’s Editor-in-Chief Amanda Dameron writes, “Over the past 16 years, we've amassed a deep archive of architectural projects that convey modern values through conscious design decisions. This special issue celebrates the way that architects and residents alike have engaged bold material palettes as a vehicle for communicating their ideals. We honor the artistry of the build through the lens of material exploration. We acknowledge that when architects experiment with material properties, they push their own power of expression.”
We couldn’t agree more. Image © Jacob Snavely.
French market basket of books, Chinese straw slippers, Afghan rug, Egyptian linen bed covers, and Pascale Watershed Blocks from the Napa Valley. Watershed Blocks are special in the way that they capture the character of the earth from which they are formed. In wine-growing terms, this is called “terroir.”
The block’s looks are matched by their sustainability profile. Post-industrial recycled aggregate combined with reduced cement result in a beautiful block with a significantly improved environmental performance. Image © Jacob Snavely.
The home’s sixteen inch thick, double wythe walls are formed from rotating stacked patterns of two blocks wide alternating with one block laid full depth. Look to the twelve foot tall door jamb leading to the stairwell for a clear display of the wall structure. The steel lintel at the top of the door jamb is supported between the jamb blocks while maintaining the the horizontal line of the mortar joints. Image © Jacob Snavely.
A soldier course of eight inch Pascale Watershed Blocks with a linen club chair and hand woven Odegard rug. Just as natural rock is made up of a million individual grains of quartz, feldspar, and trace elements, Watershed Blocks celebrate their unique composition. Unlike uniform concrete blocks, made of cement and dye, no two Watershed Blocks are exactly the same. Image © Jacob Snavely.
Watershed Materials’ president and co-founder David Easton and his wife Cynthia Wright demonstrate the inherent beauty of the home and the Pascale Watershed Block it is built from. David and Cynthia, along with a team they have worked with for decades, documented the home’s construction through extensive blog posts that illuminate each aspect of design, fabrication, assembly and final finish. Image © Jacob Snavely.
Eighteen foot high columns and walls on the downhill side anchor the building to its site. These high wall sections experience the strongest forces during an earthquake and were put to the test on August 24, 2014, when Napa was hit by a 6.0 temblor. Watershed Materials’ high compression, low cement manufacturing process was put to the ultimate challenge as the home sustained no damage during the earthquake, documented in six pages of Masonry Magazine. Image © Jacob Snavely.