Dissolving the boundaries between spaces, both interior and exterior, is the primary design intent of this single-family residence in Santa Monica Canyon. At the street front, privacy is interpreted through the building envelope and material organization. From here these elements begin to shift, or disappear altogether, allowing for a hierarchy of security, exposure and circulation that creates a dynamic, varied experience within the plan. Conceptually, the house is split into two distinct volumes with a landscaped strip bisecting the space. The floating ‘box’ second floor hovers in place above the poured concrete footing and ground-level living quarters. Comprised of three stories, this new residential construction engages the landscape by blending interior and exterior spaces through mindful massing. Bookending the first floor is the basement complete with a guest suite, family room and walk-out patio, and the third floor featuring a library, two additional bedrooms, bathrooms and the master suite. Integrated planters and a private deck extend the master bedroom, lending a view of the linear pool and reconnecting to the greenspace below. A bridge continues the core circulation from the library across to the secondary mass of the house, providing close proximity for family members while maintaining privacy. The three-story courtyard/atrium feeds light through each of the floors, including the basement, while providing sightlines to the backyard, as well as above and below. A folding garden feature sees the backyard greenery work its way subtly into the footprint of the living space. This relationship to the plot subverts the traditional notion of ‘boundary’ by allowing the home to feel simultaneously protected and emergent of the site. Coupled with fully operable glazing and the aforementioned interstitial spaces, the home feels occupiable from anywhere on the lot.

MONTALBA ARCHITECTS uploaded Vertical Courtyard House through Add A Home.
Add your own project for the chance to be featured in Editor’s Picks.

Conceptually, the house is split into two distinct volumes with a landscaped strip bisecting the space.

The three-story courtyard feeds light through each of the floors, while providing sight lines to the backyard, and above and below.

View of vertical courtyard from entry

Section diagram showing sustainability intent

The folding greenery of the garden works its way subtly into the footprint of the living space

The folding greenery of the garden works its way subtly into the footprint of the living space

Spaces are organized around the courtyard and lined with full-height glazing to maximize natural light and ventilation

By removing traditional markers of the corner or wall through operable glazing, the interior becomes an extension of the green space

Elements begin to shift or disappear altogether, allowing for a hierarchy of exposure and circulation that creates a dynamic, varied experience within the plan

View of living room

Light is strategically used to remove mass

On the second story, material is removed and landscape is introduced to create sensory connections to the lower levels.

Interior courtyards allow for light and landscape to enter the home
while maintaining privacy.

Sliding louver screens allow for modification of views, control of the elements and privacy from surrounding spaces

View of sliding louver screens

Front entry

At the street front, privacy is interpreted through building envelope and material organization. The layering of louvered screens, glazing and concrete create an abstract yet consistent separation between the neighborhood and the residence.

Architect
Landscape Design
  • Elysian Landscapes, Inc.
Builder
  • Sarlan Builders, Inc.
Photographer
  • Kevin Scott

Overview

Structure
  • House (Single Residence)
  • Square Feet
  • 5450