Located in Rancho Palos Verdes, an affluent suburb of Los Angeles known for it’s expansive views of the pacific ocean, the Henbest House is a rejuvenation of a California classic. The existing structure was built in 1966 and originally designed by the iconic mid-century modern Architect Pierre Koenig, who is most notable for his case study houses.
The new design upgrades the building envelope, MEPs, updates finishes and gently renovates and expands the floor plan to accommodate the current owners program, while paying special attention to respect the homes architectural roots.
Originally one arrived at the interior of the house via an exterior walkway which circumnavigated a courtyard. The entry path was flanked on either side by a 10′ tall wall, physically separating it from the courtyard. The new design removes this separation and incorporates the courtyard into the entry sequence. A dilapidated perimeter wall is repaired and surfaced with ipe wood siding which meets the areas current fire code. A new board formed concrete wall is offset from the ipe wall, creating a layered opening into the courtyard. A new swimming pool which was inspired by Koenig’s original site plan, but never realized replaces a koi pond and pergola that were added later and not part of Pierre’s design. The swimming pool overflows into a shallow reflecting pool which serves as a moat for the entry path that leads to the interior.
Walls are removed to provide greater views throughout the house towards the Pacific Ocean. A compartmentalized kitchen and service core are gutted to create an open kitchen / dining / living space. The master suite is expanded, replacing a small enclosed patio for livable square footage. A new guest wing is added, connecting the once detached garage to the main house. All of the fenestration is upgraded to meet current standards including new, fully retractable multi-panel sliding glass walls. When completely open the house becomes a pavilion, truly blurring the indoor / outdoor boundary that exemplifies California modern.
Henbest House, by ras-a, inc.
Photography by Chang Kyun Kim
Oak Knoll Residence, California, by Jørgensen Design
Photography by Joe Fletcher
An important collection of African art rests on the wooden sideboard in the living room of Ramp House, located in a quiet garden-neighbourhood in São Paulo. The owners intend to convert the place in a cultural foundation in the future, thus the antique pieces, collected over the last decades, have determined the architectural design approach for the house: the use of the social spaces reveal the African masks in a delicate exhibition experience, in which art blends with everyday objects and domestic life merges with the historical pieces without the feeling of living in a museum.
The architecture of the Ramp House promotes a radical spatial continuity between the interior and exterior not only through large panes of sliding glass doors – that can be fully opened, connecting the living room with the garden – but also through the consistency in the use of the same materials both inside and outside. The wooden facade folds back towards the interior, becoming the roof liner that, in turn, folds again at the hall by the ramp to create an inner facade.
The decor and interior design was conceived as a fundamental part of the architecture. The piece of furniture that holds the African masks in the living room, for example, had to have its own specific structural design to enable it to have the same clear span as the pillars (9,70m). The chairs, armchairs and tables mix old and new pieces by local Brazilian designers – such as Joaquim Tenreiro, Sergio Rodrigues – as well as international ones – such as Vladimir Kagan and George Nakashima – in order to highlight the architecture of the house and the artwork.
Ramp House, São Paulo, Brazil, by Studio mk27
Located on a rolling farm property in upstate New York, the LM Guest House celebrates the beauty of the surrounding landscape- sweeping views through an all-glass facade magnify the spacious, open feel of the living areas.The home employs several sustainable design strategies including geothermal heating and cooling, radiant floors, motorized solar shading, photovoltaic panels, and rainwater harvesting.
The open living and sleeping areas flow around a compact slatted wood core that disguises the mechanical, storage, and bathing spaces. Two sleeping couchettes with built-in bunk beds provide efficient accommodations for additional weekend guests. Natural white oak wood detailing provides warmth and texture throughout the home.
The high-performance glass facade was pre-fabricated off site, shipped in one container, and erected in two days. An innovative steel frame structure allows the roof to cantilever dramatically over the open living areas and bedroom.
LM Guest House, by Desai/Chia Architecture
Photography by Paul Warchol
Sitting on a plot of 1,000 square meters, the 580-square-meter residence comprises multiple layers and areas: the structure unfolds around a double-height courtyard in a sequence of rooms that proceed from communal to private. Pitsou Kedem Architects designed three key spaces – the central area, the communal area and the external area – which visually intertwine through glass walls and shelving systems. What the Corten House stands out for however, is its external, weathered-steel structure that envelops the house’s perimeter, casting shadows in a chequer board pattern across its internal surfaces.
The Corten House, Savion, Israel, by Pitsou Kedem Architects
Photography by Amit Geron
The location of this house, in the heart of a bustling resort town, demanded special consideration of the acoustic sense. The house is comprised of a series of parallel walls that provide layers of privacy and insulation from the sound of the village. The walls project beyond the living spaces and ascend in height, building from a human-scale wall at the entry to a high wall along the center of the house. The walls diffract the sound waves moving past them, casting an acoustic shadow over the property to create a quiet outdoor gathering area.
The walls are built with insulated concrete forms: a wall assembly nearly twenty inches thick, comprised of a poured concrete core, continuous from footing to roof, wrapped in insulating foam, that also serves as formwork during construction. These walls provide excellent thermal insulation and an extremely low sound transmission coefficient. Due to the strength of their concrete cores, the walls act as structural beams, enabling them to span over the gathering space at the center of the house and the covered deck.
Inside, variations on the clips are utilized as robe hooks, cabinet pulls, and hinges for an adjustable sound baffle in the central gathering space. The hinges hang cedar boards in front of a felt panel with spaces between them. Sound waves pass through the gaps between the boards, are trapped behind them, and absorbed by the felt. The hinges allow the spacing of the boards to be adjusted so the room can be acoustically tuned for intimate gatherings or boisterous parties. The stair is also tuned to create a subtle acoustic experience. The stair treads taper in thickness, changing the pitch of footfalls as one ascends from the woodshop in the basement, past the main floor with public spaces, guest room, and master bedroom, and up to the childrens’ rooms on the upper floor.
Elizabeth II, by Bates Masi Architects
The development at 24 The Esplanade, Brighton, has been designed to provide four contemporary buildings of outstanding architectural quality, as a possible prototype for medium density housing in Melbourne. The siting, formal composition, and materiality of each building gives consideration to contextual issues such as surrounding building form and size, the waterfront promenade, and views within and from the site.
The proposed design is a mix of typologies, including terrace town houses, apartments and penthouses. Each is arranged in a way to maximise views to the beach, from apartments and semi-public areas, or capitalise on views within the site, towards the proposed landscaped areas. All four buildings are individually sculpted and provide an engaging dialogue through their juxtaposition.
Esplanade 30, Melbourne, Australia, by Wood Marsh Architecture
Photography by Lynton Crabb Photography
This timber and glass pavilion is the second house in the development and continues the theme of coastal modernity. Following the principles of the InForm ‘Retreat’ design, but on a larger scale, the house includes a double garage, four bedrooms and a lounge, as well as an open plan kitchen, meals and living space.
The characteristic long lineal roof plane caps the entire building, protecting the loggia and deck that extends the length of the northern exterior. A full height vertical timber screen protects the loggia from the west, and creates a dynamic front façade. Large full height black aluminium doors connect the living areas and master bedroom to the deck and sweeping lawn beyond. The black aluminium provides a striking contrast with the smoky grey oiled timber cladding and crisp white fascias. A white concrete brick blade wall separates the entry from the loggia and extends into the living area to form the fireplace. White oiled oak floors add an appropriate contemporary but rustic sensibility to the interior palette, which also includes stainless steel and marble bench tops, oak joinery and a white mosaic tiled splash back.
Blairgowrie 2, by InForm
Photography by Hilary Bradford & Derek Swalwell
Few architects have imbued a community with as much design spirit as has Donald Wexler for Palm Springs and the Coachella Valley. One of the first impressions of this spirit was the house he designed for himself and his family, in which they lived for 38 years. After expanding the home in 1960, he assisted in its 2008 restoration, consulting and designing alongside the owners, with painstaking attention to quality and detail. This restoration – which he considered to be the final evolution of his aesthetic – was awarded MOD COM’s 2009 Preservation of the Year.
A privacy wall surrounds the house and newly-landscaped grounds, by William Kopelk and Marcello Villano. The pedestrian gate opens to reveal a gem-like transparency of floor-to-ceiling glass walls and wide overhangs, all engendered by the post and beam construction. Taking cues from his mentor, Richard Neutra, Wexler “pinwheels” the floor plan so rooms open readily to the many terraces and salt-water pool.
Open living and dining room, a kitchen modernized with stainless steel appliances, library nook, three bedrooms, two baths, car port. Terrazzo and T111 panels crisply unify the whole, while creating intimate spaces. The elegant Master suite is thoughtfully separated from the guest wing, which opens to private outdoor spaces, flanked by spectacular mature pine trees and the original Wexler spa. Sophisticated yet relaxing, the Wexler House stands as a testament to the marriage of design and livability found in Mid-Century architecture.
The Wexler House, Palm Springs, California, by Donald Wexler
Photography by Lance Gerber
The house consists of three volumes stacked in a pyramid shape, whereby the two lower ones contain the living areas and the upper volume houses three bedrooms; these three ‘blocks’ were made to stand out by using different materials on their facade, namely stone and metal for the lower ones and wood for the upper one. On top of the whole house sits a pavilion with a barbecue area and a sunbathing area which also acts as a viewing platform, offering a 360-degrees view of the city.
Casa Lara, São Paulo, Brazil, by Felipe Hess
Photography by Ricardo Basseti