Page D1.2 . 15 March 2006                     
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    Ten Year House


    According to project architect Ching Luk, the client came to Pugh + Scarpa in 1994 with program requirements that included "a space suitable for parties and a good-sized master bedroom suite." The existing house did not fit the bill, so its demolition was part of the architect's design.

    Within a year, the design work was completed, the permit obtained, and the house demolished; only a garage and some foundations remained on the site. Then the client put the project on hold to focus his attention elsewhere.

    Seven Years Later

    By the time the client was ready to proceed, zoning requirements on the property had changed to include larger setbacks from property lines, and a street-widening project was underway. Also, the architects had matured as designers in the interim. "After many years," says Luk, "you look back on your old designs and criticize them. Why did you do that? Can we do it better?"

    Though the program remained the same, principal Lawrence Scarpa persuaded the client to let the firm rework the house in order to streamline the design, making it simpler, lighter, and more whimsical. "The basic plan didn't change," Luk notes, "but the theory behind the design concept changed. It became less solid and more like a pavilion. We removed almost all the interior walls."

    Other major redesign changes occurred in section and in material choices. Taking advantage of the hillside site, a walk-out basement containing two bedrooms and two bathrooms was carved out beneath the house, and the adjacent yard was flattened to form a "golf lawn," perfect for putting practice. The larger setback requirements prevented expansion horizontally, so the master suite and studio shifted vertically, up to a second floor.

    The house is organized in three distinct sections. One section is solidly private: a smooth plaster box constructed of standard wood framing. The second section is openly public: a steel and glass pavilion lightly contained by 22-foot- (6.7-meter-) high glass sliders. The third section is a miniaturized combination of the first two: a high box of steel and glass set far off to the side as a studio/ office.

    A 12-inch- (30-centimeter-) wide glass slit runs the height of the main house on both long facades, wrapping into a skylight above, and functioning as a reveal between the solid and open sections. Meanwhile, open air separates the studio space from the main house. Only a unified material palette and a perforated steel bridge connect the studio to the other two sections.

    Living in the Hills

    While ascending the winding roads to reach this house — especially in the rain — one cannot help but recall the recent landslides and resulting damage. On seeing the breathtaking views of the San Fernando Valley from the hills, however, apprehension gives way to admiration.

    The Redelco Residence makes the most of this phenomenon. Despite being a full story higher than the original house's retaining wall and fence, the new street facade is actually of a friendlier scale and finish. However, it maintains enough solidity to generate a sense of protection and to form a distinct entry threshold to the property.

    "We didn't want to turn our back on the street," recalls Luk, "but we wanted a solid approach from the driveway to enhance the surprise when entering the property through the gate and under the bridge."

    The enormous glass sliders connect the interior and exterior, increasing the perceived floor area of the house and, when open, naturally ventilating the house. Large solid sliders divide the second floor master suite from the adjacent double-height living area. These sliders are usually open, however, revealing clearly intended parallels to urban loft design.   >>>

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    ArchWeek Image

    The Redelco Residence in Studio City, California, designed and redesigned by Pugh + Scarpa.
    Photo: Marvin Rand

    ArchWeek Image

    The balcony of the studio/office juts out toward the street.
    Photo: Marvin Rand

    ArchWeek Image

    A perforated steel bridge spans between public and private zones of the house.
    Photo: Marvin Rand

    ArchWeek Image

    Two-story living room with a hint of urban loft.
    Photo: Marvin Rand

    ArchWeek Image

    Material palette of stone, wood, glass, and steel.
    Photo: Marvin Rand

    ArchWeek Image

    Kitchen with a view.
    Photo: Marvin Rand

    ArchWeek Image

    Sections looking west.
    Image: Pugh + Scarpa

    ArchWeek Image

    Above: section looking east through studio; below: section looking south.
    Image: Pugh + Scarpa


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