HILL STREET RESIDENCE
This project attempts to explore the condition of the single family home by addressing the types of uses found within the home, the forms that contain those uses, and the rules that inform the articulation of those forms. In doing so, the project becomes a series of programmatic containers carefully connected to define the complete dwelling.
The site itself is a typical 50'x140' lot in a flat area of Sunset Park in Santa Monica. Through a series of discussions with our client, the program began to gravitate into two separate categories. The first category consists of general living spaces to accommodate their entertaining lifestyle - open living spaces on the first floor including an entertainment room for the gathering of adults and a playroom for the gathering of children. As welcoming as these spaces needed to be, another series of spaces needed to be equally private - the bedrooms should read as a place of retreat and removal. In addition to the client's programmatic needs, a series of specific code requirements became additional criteria for developing a dipartite solution. Typical front, side and rear yard setbacks applied to the walls of the first floor while a significantly more complicated set of rules defined additional setbacks for a second floor volume. In sum, the higher the walls of the second floor rise, the further they must set back from the property line (or seen in a different light, the further from the property line, the higher the volume can rise). The idiosyncrasies of the site, program and code suggest that a different set of rules apply to each floor level.
In a direct response to these conditions, the forms of the building began to fragment into two distinct volumes each responding to a different set of rules. The result is a house defined by two interlocking boxes of program - a container for the places of gathering on the first floor and a separate container for the private places of retreat on the second floor. Formally, each container began to respond to that which it contained. The gathering spaces of the first floor allow for an interaction and connection between both the users (owners and guests) as well as the uses (indoor and outdoor spaces, front yard and backyard, places for gathering, entertaining and connecting). The entertainment room further symbolizes the digital connection to the outside world from within the home via satellite television and internet access and accordingly reveals itself slightly outside the first floor walls. The bedrooms on the second floor become the places of retreat from the connective world becoming a more intimate container for the family itself. As the setback requirements and associated height restrictions help sculpt the shifting and tilting form, the container for these places of retreat seems to float within the extended walls of the first floor container.
Ultimately it is through the adjacency and juxtaposition of these two formal containers and contained uses that a sense of balance and cohesion begins to exist.