A Look Inside and Out of Thomas Cowen’s Seashell-Inspired Big Sur Beach House.

thomas cowen Seashell house

You may have seen this modern concrete and wood structure, with its living roof, referred to as the Seashell-Inspired House or The Abalone House. The Thomas Cowan Seashell House is a modern home (really just a small beach house) in Big Sur, California.  It’s been recently featured, with few images, on several blogs (trendir, designyoutrust and inthralld for example) and Pinterest, even though it was completed four years ago.

Thomas Cowan Seashell House

 Thomas Cowan Seashell House

The above two images are from unknown source. If you know who to credit, please tell me.

It’s no wonder it’s difficult to find more images and information about this modern structure (which is only 775 square feet). The Carmel, CA architect, Thomas Cowen, has no website. The landscaping company from which the images in the aforementioned blogs were procured did not credit the photographer and they misspelled the name of the building contractor in their credits. But with some serious research, I have uncovered several more images of and information about the home I have yet to see on any blogs or architecture sites and am excited to share them with you.

Rana Creek the landscaping company who designed the living roof calls it the Abalone House.

thomas cowan seashell house

Thomas Cowan Seashell House

The glass skylight you see on the roof of the structure is actually above an interior shower:
Thomas Cowan Seashell House

From the aerial image of the property below, you can see how it’s been termed the Seashell-Inspired house because it’s more of a Nautilus than an Abalone.

Thomas Cowan Seashell House

It’s set on a private road (9525 Pias Ranch Road), just off the bluff, south of Sycamore Canyon Road and the owners of the home are venture capitalist Alex Balkanski of Benchmark Capital and wife Sybilla.

Below are images of the circular structure and its interior, complete with concrete walls, wood beam ceiling and curved cabinetry:
Thomas Cowan Seashell House

Thomas Cowan Seashell House

green architecture

Thomas Cowan Seashell House

The spiral shaped concrete structure was actually a second floor addition to a three bedroom three bathroom single-family dwelling totaling 775 square feet. And according to the approved development permit for the Balkanskis (PLN040665/Balkanski), it also was intended to have a detached 575 square foot underground wine cellar, a 120 sq. ft. mechanical room, a 375 sq. ft. pool and spa with a retaining wall and deck. Whether or not these were all completed, I do not know.

Completed: 2008
Client/ Owners: Alex & Sybilla Balkanski
Location: Big Sur, California
Architect: Thomas Cowen
Contractor: Kevin Rider, Rider Construction

photos courtesy of photographer David Bryan and Rider Construction