Project: Koehler House
Architects: ras-a studio
Builder: ras-a BUILD LLC
Structural Engineer: Eric McCullum
Landscape Design: Jones Landscapes
Location: Manhattan Beach, California
Photo Credits: Joe Fletcher
Text by ras-a-studio
Set in a residential neighborhood of Manhattan Beach, the property is a corner lot that is located across the street from a school, a church, and a park.
The Koehler house owners, both from Brazil, wanted an open floor plan with a strong connection to outdoor spaces that would remind them of home. They were concerned with privacy and the school traffic, but wanted the house to open to the outside as much as possible. They also requested a pool be added to the backyard when we were two-thirds into construction!
For increased visibility to traffic, the garage was placed at the south side of the property. Guests enter along a pathway that takes them through a courtyard before entering the Koehler house. Dictated by the geometry of the lot, the courtyard’s concrete masonry wall—which is just high enough to block outside views from the street while allowing in the southern sunlight—tucks under a cantilevered second floor, transitioning from courtyard to building wall. Rotating selected masonry units so they protrude from the face of wall to create succulent planters gives the wall texture and life.
Two sets of sliding pocket doors seamlessly connect the courtyard to the open-concept ground level and then again to the patio and pool—which was carved out an existing backyard hillside. The oversized fenestration supports the home’s passive cooling which use a series of strategically placed light wells on the roof capped with operable skylights to create mini thermal chimneys.
The bedrooms and private sectors are located on the second floor. The master suite looks out onto the park across the street, while the kids’ rooms have views of the sunsets and backyard hillside garden. Solar scoops framed around the kids bedroom windows control sunlight and provide privacy from the pool below.
Aside from the masonry wall, the exterior is mostly stucco for its low cost and maintenance. Western red cedar clads both the interior ceilings and exterior soffits, adding warmth to the pallet. Modular IKEA boxes paired with custom fronts and panels were used for casework throughout. The ground floor living space’s polished concrete slab continues outdoors to become patios. A turf-block driveway allows rainwater to percolate into the water table, and native and drought-tolerant plants fill the yards.