Located 15 miles north of Los Angeles at the edge of Angeles National Forest, the 3,500 SF Residence sits on 6 acres of land originally planned as a small hillside subdivision designed by Richard Neutra. Although three level pads were originally cleared, only one house, Neutra's 1952 Serulnic Residence, was built on the site. An extensive desert garden and outdoor pavilion occupies the second clearing. Today, the Pittman Dowell Residences sits on the last clearing, circumscribed by the winding driveway which leads to the Serulnic Residence on the bluff above.
Companion to a Modernist Landmark Five decades after the original house was constructed in this once remote area, the city has grown around it with an accompanying change in both the visual and the physical context. While living in the original house, the artist owners decided to build a second residence on the site. They envisioned a home that would accommodate contemporary lifestyles and reflect an evolving attitude about the relationship between buildings and the landscape.
Geometric Dissections Conceived as a series of divisions, the house takes on a heptagonal form confounded via a series of slices or cuts which subdivide the house experientially, spatially, and programmatically. Inspired by a theory of mathematical shape dissection, the project explores fundamental questions related to area and volume. Any series of subdivisions yields the same volume, however, the way in which a form is subdivided is critical to producing the relationships between each of the component pieces. The dissections are inextricably linked to the performance of the whole. In a similar way, the project builds upon these mathematical dissections of interlocking polygonal primitives and furthers the concept through a study of the spatial and experiential relationships.
A Perspectival Collapsing of Space Inside the house, living spaces unfold in a shifting array of framed views of spaces within the house and vistas out to the valley below. These perspectival manipulations begin at the level of the room, collapsing and distending space through a series of non-parallel walls that never fully enclose the space of a room. Instead of using doors, a level of privacy is maintained by layering space and limiting view access. The unbounded nature of each room lends itself to a spatial continuity of experience, allowing each room to bleed or spill over into the next, creating an overlap of zones. Movement through the space is further made continuous through the absence of a formal threshold between rooms. The project uses only 2 doors within a total of 3,500 square feet. Instead of using doors, a level of privacy is maintained by layering space and limiting view access.
Color and indoor-outdoor views further challenge the relationship of elements framed within each scene. On a smaller scale, the project contrasts the irregular geometry of the project against a continuity of material fields. Pattern serves as a background index against which a space can be measured—a datum. Elements within the house are played against each other effectively collapsing the distance between foreground and background. Although not strictly defined, the home includes living and dining areas, a kitchen, library, bedroom, office, and bathroom. At the heart of the project is a courtyard resulting from the diagonal intersecting slices through the home. The courtyard itself is a contained and protected microclimate within the greater urban environment.