Dwell Home Venice: Part 3

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By Michael Sylvester / Published by Dwell
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In this series, Sebastian Mariscal designs a home in Venice, California, that brings the outside in. We track the project from start to finish with future resident Michael Sylvester. Part 3, February 2011: Refining the design. Sebastian Mariscal updates the original design to incorporate city requirements, client feedback, and some additional design refinement.

In our recent meeting with the Case Manager at the Los Angeles Department of Building and Safety, we learned the City’s view on acceptable connection options that would help us meet our objective of joining two separate parts of the house. With this information, some modifications I had requested, plus some additional refinement, Sebastian Mariscal updated our original plan and presented the latest version to us.

The final design still has a central courtyard but the structures on either site of the courtyard are connected by a 10-foot-wide bridge that is deep enough to support a rooftop garden and will provide a covered outdoor dining space underneath. This covered dining pavilion is similar to one that was present in the first plan for the house, but in the revised design it resolves the issue of disconnected parts of the home.

A 10ft wide bridge connects the two major parts of the home. In the model shown, on the right is the living/dining/kitchen with guest bedrooms above. On the left is the master bedroom with a media room above. The Department of Building and Safety agreed that this bridge constituted a satisfactory "connection" between two parts of the home. The house would not be approved for construction without this connection.

A 10ft wide bridge connects the two major parts of the home. In the model shown, on the right is the living/dining/kitchen with guest bedrooms above. On the left is the master bedroom with a media room above. The Department of Building and Safety agreed that this bridge constituted a satisfactory "connection" between two parts of the home. The house would not be approved for construction without this connection.

The first floor plan: 1. Garage, 2. Utility, 3. Laundry, 4. Recreation room, 5. Bedroom courtyard, 6. Bathroom courtyard, 7. Master bathroom, 8. Wardrobe, 9. Toilet, 10. Master bedroom, 11. Outdoor fireplace, 12. Main courtyard, 13. Covered pavilion, 14, BBQ area, 15. Living room, 16. Dining room, 17. Kitchen, 18. Home office, 19. Pine Needle Courtyard, 20. Oak Tree Courtyard, 21. Covered entry, 22. Vestibule, 23. Powder room.

The first floor plan: 1. Garage, 2. Utility, 3. Laundry, 4. Recreation room, 5. Bedroom courtyard, 6. Bathroom courtyard, 7. Master bathroom, 8. Wardrobe, 9. Toilet, 10. Master bedroom, 11. Outdoor fireplace, 12. Main courtyard, 13. Covered pavilion, 14, BBQ area, 15. Living room, 16. Dining room, 17. Kitchen, 18. Home office, 19. Pine Needle Courtyard, 20. Oak Tree Courtyard, 21. Covered entry, 22. Vestibule, 23. Powder room.

The second floor plan: 1. Rooftop garden, 2. Media room, 3. Guest bedroom, 4. Bathroom, 5. Deck.

The second floor plan: 1. Rooftop garden, 2. Media room, 3. Guest bedroom, 4. Bathroom, 5. Deck.

This diagram shows the front, side and rear setbacks marked in red. These are areas where no building can take place. The front setback, shown on the right side, is deeper than this cropped image shows. The yellow area represents compulsory separation between the master bedroom and the garage with attached recreation room.

This diagram shows the front, side and rear setbacks marked in red. These are areas where no building can take place. The front setback, shown on the right side, is deeper than this cropped image shows. The yellow area represents compulsory separation between the master bedroom and the garage with attached recreation room.

One of the design revisions we made was to change the exterior skin of the house from steel to timber. We felt that the steel skin of the original design looked a bit too formal and Teutonic. Steel is also dimensionally unforgiving whereas the wooden framing underneath is more plastic in its properties. It can be a challenge to get the steel perfectly into place. The revised design features a black washed cedar siding that will give a warm rustic feel that we like.

An example of black washed cedar siding similar to the finish that we will use. The imperfect application of the wash is intentional.

An example of black washed cedar siding similar to the finish that we will use. The imperfect application of the wash is intentional.

Sebastian Mariscal provided some computer-rendered images of the revised design reflecting an adjusted floor plan and also the dark wood skin. One of the most striking features of the home is the large "lift and slide" door system that allows for the living and dining area to completely open up to the courtyard. There is also a smaller door system on the opposite side of the room that opens onto a Pine Needle Courtyard so the room can be open on two sides simultaneously.

A view across the main courtyard into the great room and beyond to the pine needle courtyard. The great room houses the living, dining and kitchen spaces and can be opened to the outdoors on both sides. A lift and slide door system on the western wall creates the largest opening in the house, looking onto the main courtyard.

A view across the main courtyard into the great room and beyond to the pine needle courtyard. The great room houses the living, dining and kitchen spaces and can be opened to the outdoors on both sides. A lift and slide door system on the western wall creates the largest opening in the house, looking onto the main courtyard.

A view from the pine needle courtyard across the living and dining room to the main courtyard. The cropped tree on the right side of the image is the existing mature pine tree which was retained as a key design element.

A view from the pine needle courtyard across the living and dining room to the main courtyard. The cropped tree on the right side of the image is the existing mature pine tree which was retained as a key design element.