Twin Houses on Tiny Lots Stretch Outward for Space

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By Sam Eichblatt / Published by Dwell
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Linked by a modern version of a white picket fence, two near-identical houses in Los Angeles add space by extending beyond their envelopes.

Los Angeles-based firm Anonymous Architects cantilevered side-by-side houses over two steep lots in Los Angeles's Mount Washington neighborhood. Each canyon-side site measures roughly 2,000 square feet and, once zoning and land-use regulations were taken into account, left room for a maximum footprint of just 600 square feet for each building.

However, as the building code did allow small projections outside their envelopes, architect Simon Storey "bumped out" five bay windows in each house, adding an additional 100 square feet in the form of bench seating and sleeping space for guests.

"Building small but sensibly is essentially more sustainable than anything else you can do," says Storey.

While the floor plans are identical, the two story cantilevered houses are offset and have subtle differences in size and height that, along with frosting on some of the windows, enable the owners to retain privacy.

While the floor plans are identical, the two story cantilevered houses are offset and have subtle differences in size and height that, along with frosting on some of the windows, enable the owners to retain privacy.

The two separate structures were given a visual unity by cladding them with a specially fire-treated cedar siding on the exterior. The white picket fence is another visual tie between the properties.

The two separate structures were given a visual unity by cladding them with a specially fire-treated cedar siding on the exterior. The white picket fence is another visual tie between the properties.

Both the front door and garage are accessible from street level. The floor is cantilevered out over a concrete pile foundation and garden far below.

Both the front door and garage are accessible from street level. The floor is cantilevered out over a concrete pile foundation and garden far below.

Inside, Storey chose to leave materials unfinished and as natural as possible — matte ceramic bathroom tiles, exposed concrete structural pillars and walls, and white-oak doors and floors. The latter were treated with WOCA, a VOC-free Danish floor oil.<br><br>"I left the concrete exposed to add texture — it’s a nice touch, because it’s something you’d normally see in much more high-spec houses," says Storey.

Inside, Storey chose to leave materials unfinished and as natural as possible — matte ceramic bathroom tiles, exposed concrete structural pillars and walls, and white-oak doors and floors. The latter were treated with WOCA, a VOC-free Danish floor oil.

"I left the concrete exposed to add texture — it’s a nice touch, because it’s something you’d normally see in much more high-spec houses," says Storey.

Skylights add to the apparent volume of the space, as well as performing the practical duty of providing light.

Skylights add to the apparent volume of the space, as well as performing the practical duty of providing light.

The lounge setup shows one of five "bump-outs" — in this case, it is used to provide additional seating without taking up floor space. In other parts of the house, the built-in seats also provide extra sleeping areas.

The lounge setup shows one of five "bump-outs" — in this case, it is used to provide additional seating without taking up floor space. In other parts of the house, the built-in seats also provide extra sleeping areas.

Despite the house’s spatial limitations, Storey still managed to create small pockets of sheltered outdoor space — essential for life in Los Angeles.

Despite the house’s spatial limitations, Storey still managed to create small pockets of sheltered outdoor space — essential for life in Los Angeles.

White oak was also used for the kitchen cabinetry, and white marble for the countertops. In the open-plan dining area, another window seat pulls double duty as a bench for the kitchen table.<br><br>"The bump-outs are designed to function as built-in furniture," he says. "I loved the idea of turning the walls into miniature habitable spaces, and making the house itself part of the furniture."

White oak was also used for the kitchen cabinetry, and white marble for the countertops. In the open-plan dining area, another window seat pulls double duty as a bench for the kitchen table.

"The bump-outs are designed to function as built-in furniture," he says. "I loved the idea of turning the walls into miniature habitable spaces, and making the house itself part of the furniture."

The architect has a track record of stripping away elements of excess to create simple, livable, and well-lit spaces that feel larger than they are. This downstairs bathroom features a simple white ceramic tiles and a sliding white oak door.

The architect has a track record of stripping away elements of excess to create simple, livable, and well-lit spaces that feel larger than they are. This downstairs bathroom features a simple white ceramic tiles and a sliding white oak door.