Project: Hollywood Hills Home
Architecture: Envelope Architecture + Design
Principal of Envelope AD: Douglas Burnham
Project Lead: Grayson Holden, Lauren Jordan
Team: Cassiopea McDonald, Ben Leavitt
Landscape: Matthew Brown Landscape Design
Location: Los Angeles, California, United States
Area: 3750 ft2
Photo Credits: Matthew Millman
Set on a rare, large vacant site in the Hollywood Hills, this new home for a young family explores ideas about living in Los Angeles — the extremes of the environment (the sun, the smog, earthquakes, fires) and a cultural drive toward maximizing experience, along with the easy pleasure of Southern California’s lifestyle. The 3,750-square-foot house is conceived as a series of experiential “chambers,” rooms and outdoor spaces, each designed to heighten their spatial, material and chromatic elements. The effect is one of intensity and even strangeness, parsed by calm, neutral transitions. At the same time, a conscious response to the untamed nature of the site is intrinsic to the design.
The Hollywood Hills Home is cut into the steeply sloping site, presenting as a single story to the street above. The main, living level of the house sits a full story below the street with access through the warped, gridded car court and ramp down to the sun plaza. A CMU wall, composed of standard blocks, encloses this “first room” and enhances privacy; the home’s upper floor just peeks above.
The plaza, with views to Burbank and the San Fernando Valley beyond, is the expanded living space of the house: its cast concrete fire pit and dipping pool flow from the kitchen, living and dining area of the lower floor. A subterranean “control room,” tucked into the landscape, houses all the home’s audio and video systems.
A fully cast-in-place concrete bunker, this family gathering space is isolated from the real world except for four light canons, angled to grab light from different portions of the sky.
The bedroom level above is wrapped in a kinked and faceted, painted and perforated aluminum rain screen — a protective skin against the intensity of the LA sun and drifting wildfire embers.
The master bedroom sits at the head of this volume, opening to the valley view. Two kid’s bedrooms (one currently used as an office) are joined through a jack-and-jill bathroom clad in droog D-tile. The street-side bedroom enjoys a lovely cactus garden wrapped by the concrete block street wall. A guest suite, occupying the leg of the bedroom volume, has its own entry and can function separately from the rest of the house.
The garage, with a roll-up door in dichroic glass, accommodates both cars and a motorcycle fabrication shop, a hobby of one of the owners. The garage volume, clad in black cement panel, sits in juxtaposition to the brighter and whiter materiality of the house, a dark object that mediates the sequences in and out of the house.