California House opens to the outside


Why is it on TreeHugger?

We no longer show large single family homes on TreeHugger. These are not good examples of what we should be building in a low carbon world, where we don’t need another 6,800 square foot suburban freak. Still, there was something about this Santa Monica Canyon home in California that caught my eye; maybe it is a dream of where i would like to be locked up during a pandemic.

© Taiyo Watanabe via V2comPerhaps this is the attraction, coming as much from the location and the garden as from the house; no one is trapped inside here. The boundary between inside and outside barely exists when these monstrous sliding glass walls are retracted.

Key design features include windows that frame the gorgeous trees, canopy-shaped cantilever eaves, and fully glazed exterior walls that open out to a central courtyard to provide the perfect balance between the interior and exterior life. Every view of the house has been designed to captivate with nature or art.

© Taiyo Watanabe via V2com

I may have recognized the architectural lineage; California residential architecture was defined either by Modernist case study houses or by the exaggerated work of John Lautner, who studied with Frank Lloyd Wright, and whose successor was Duncan Nicholson, who started this house but died too young, and which was taken over by Kristopher Conner and James Perry of Conner + Perry Architects, who worked for Nicholson.

© Taiyo Watanabe via V2com

Maybe it’s the choice of materials, the use of Eucalyptus wood found on the property, and some of my favorites:

The exterior materials of the new house were selected for their organic nature, ability to age in place, and climate compatibility, such as charred wood siding (Shou Sugi Ban), copper, exposed steel and concrete. Interior materials have been chosen to reflect the nature of the outdoors, including a mix of Massangis gray limestone and French oak for the floor, weathered brass, blackened steel elements, and a variety of marble and tile.

© Taiyo Watanabe via V2com

I’m not even going to complain about the open kitchen, which almost feels like I’m outside with those doors open, although I have to complain about the giant gas stove. At least it’s not on the kitchen mainland (too big to call an island) and it has a decently sized extractor hood.

© Connor + Perry Floor Plan

It’s mostly for show anyway, you can see on the map that there is a “messy kitchen” (11) behind it which is larger than most people’s working kitchen. There is also a home office (4) at the front door so you can work from home comfortably. The big surprise is the small size of the living room (7), considering the size of the house.

© Taiyo Watanabe via V2com

I guess I should be outraged by the bathroom, which is bigger than many studios, but there are things to admire here; I continue on to the rimless killer tubs where you can sit, to swing your legs (the safe way in), and this one has a huge deck. The shower has a place where you can sit.

© Taiyo Watanabe via V2com

During the Great Depression, people flocked to escape movies, to watch Fred Astaire put on his top hat, the dancers singing, “We’re in the money.” According to Movies as History: Scenes of America, “The depression was depressing. The movies offered an escape from the grim reality.”

Maybe in these depressing times it’s on TreeHugger as an escape from grim reality. But there are also some interesting lessons and some great things to watch. Now it’s back to our regular lineup.

© Mies daybed in the lobby / Taiyo Watanabe via V2com

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