XTEN

XTEN Architecture

La Moraleja Villa

Photography by

  • Madrid
  • Spain
  • .

This family residence for an art collector is located on a relatively flat, 2-acre park-like property characterized by hundreds of evenly spaces small oak trees.

The area is tremendously arid and hot in summer, an environmental condition that led to a design that uses both the building orientation on the site and cantilevered masses protect the glass areas of the house.

The house is organized on the site as a series of open and closed volumes with spaces between that become entry points, transitions and covered outdoor living spaces.

The entry is under a projecting and leads to a glass enclosed 2 story atrium which frame specific art works from the owner's collection. A gallery leads one to the main living/ dining space, indoor-outdoor double height space that opens completely to the pool courtyard and terrace to the South and to views over the park-like ground to the North.

Offices, guest suites and services anchor this grand open space to the East. The family/ media room, kitchen and covered outdoor dining area frame the space to the West, also protecting the living/entertaining areas from the low Western sun.

A generous master suite and family bedrooms comprise the upper floor. A ten car garage, services and staff rooms complete the subterranean basement level.

Skyhouse

Photography by

  • Los Angeles
  • California
  • .

Madisonhouse

Photography by

  • La Quinta
  • California
  • .

The Madisonhouse is located on a West facing knoll overlooking a dramatic mountain range at the eastern end of the Coachella Valley. The area is known for its extreme summer heat and severe winds. During the winter months however the area is paradise - clear, sunny and temperate days, with cooler nights perfect for the indoor outdoor modern lifestyle made famous in photographs by Julius Shulman.

The projecting and sheltering roof planes of the house are designed to relate to the horizontality of the desert floor, connecting the house directly to its natural surroundings. The house is organized around two main concepts: to use the mass and materials of the house to shelter the inhabitants from extreme desert conditions; and conversely, to open the house to the mountain views and clear desert light.

The house is organized as two volumes around a central courtyard, bridged by a series of large cantilevered roof planes on two stories. To the South, the solid mass creates a thermal buffer to the massive solar heat gain. This volume contains the garage, offices and service spaces, culminating in a media room with a covered terrace facing the mountains. To the North, a long rectangular solid mass containing guest bedrooms and two story fireplace block create a windbreak to Northern winds that can reach 100mph.

These closed volumes in the North-South direction are counteracted by layers of transparency in the East-West direction. Deep cantilevered overhangs protect these large openings from the sun and allow them to open completely when weather allows.

Projecting horizontal roof planes rest on two long fieldstone walls that frame, in succession: patterned metal entry pivot doors, a courtyard and reflecting pool, glass entry pivot doors, a large cross-axial living/dining/ open kitchen area, a sixty foot wall of sliding glass panels, a covered outdoor terrace, and outdoor swimming/ entertaining area.

Environmentally, the house is designed with Insulated Concrete Formwork (ICF) walls that create super insulated R60 walls. The thick stone and concrete walls, deep glazing recesses and large cantilevered overhangs shelter the house from the sun.

Concurrently, the house opens in every direction to passively cool the interior spaces. The courtyard reflecting pool also serves as an evaporative cooling system for the ground floor areas opening onto the courtyard. High performance glass, high efficiency mechanical systems and fixtures further reduce the energy profile of the house.

Like the desert climate itself, the house is a study in dualities. Large open and fluid spaces are framed by massive solid and fixed elements. Light white terrazzo floors and countertops and bounded by dark rift oak wood cabinetry. Rough stone walls frame openings of delicate metal and glass doors.

Materials continue from interior to exterior and back again, furthering the connection between inside and outside spaces. From inside the house panoramic views open dramatically from every room, and nature becomes an integral part of the house.

T house

Photography by

  • Los Angeles
  • California
  • .

Sunset Bungalows

Photography by

  • Los Angeles
  • California
  • .

Guggenheim Museum

Photography by

  • Helsinki
  • Finland
  • .

The new Guggenheim Helsinki is composed as a series of interconnected volumes that generate new relations between Tahtitornin vouri park, the boardwalk and the waterfront. Given the very prominent site of the project, the proposal is not only concerned with the building itself, but with creating a network of public spaces along the waterfront. The result is a literal extension of the public space to the water and a park that meanders through and around the museum.

Exterior spaces of the museum create seamless connection between inside and outside. To the East a new Sculpture Bridge will connect the main museum entrance to Tahtitornin vuori park and extend the green belt of the park in and through the museum site.

This Museum park slopes down to the dock level at 2.1m, connecting again to a new timber boardwalk that will link the waterfront to the museum. This will create an engaging, dynamic relationship between the park, the waterfront, the boardwalk and the Guggenheim, while avoiding the perception of the museum as a self-enclosed object on the bay.

The sloped plaza is the extension of the vuori/ mountain park beyond. As one passes beneath the building the landscape continues as a gently undulating hill, extending out to the city and waterfront. Indigenous trees – the same varied species found in the park will extend across the bridge and populate the Museum park.

The building also creates an iconic image from the waterfront, of a glowing white granite roofscape formed by the skylight cones that capture the Nordic light for the galleries below. From the mouth of the bay, entering the harbor, the building will appear like sails, like glowing lanterns against the forests and cityscape of Helsinki.

The massing of the main building is pushed up against the service roads, a relatively thin volume that continues the long blocks of the city and creates the open and accessible public space sheltered between the museum and the waterfront.

Gallery configuration is based on a highly flexible 10mx10m grid, such that galleries can accommodate the requirements of each individual exhibition. Two large gallery spaces anchor the main gallery level at 15.1m; a large gallery project room for special events and educational workshops, located in the Southeast corner; and a triple height gallery located at the North terminus of the building, with a mezzanine overlook from the main gallery level and a full height glass wall facing the City.

The building is conceived as a model of sustainability. The entire roofscape harvests the Nordic sunlight for maximum use in the building, obviating the need for electric lighting loads during the daytime, All offices and service areas will have extensive and operable glazing for natural passive ventilation and cooling. Heating will be integrated into the structural slabs with radiant hydronic systems. Rainwater from the rooftops and Museum Park will be collected and used for gray water purposes in the maintenance of the building.

The West and South elevations of the building have a layered building assembly to create a solar thermal wall – absorbing the sunlight during the day to release into the building for heating during non sunlight hours.

Natural and diffused light enters the galleries from a variety of skylights. The skylight cones are conceived as a multilayered system that captures the low Nordic sunlight and redirects it with custom shaped louvers onto the sloping walls to illuminate the artwork. Light plaster walls and whitewashed wood surfaces add to the light and airy feeling in the galleries.

The interiors are rendered almost entirely in wood, conceived of as an expression of different wood species and fabrication, installation and finishing techniques that Finland is world famous for.

As Helsinki is known as the legendary White City of the North, the exterior of the museum is conceived in local pale granite, fabricated as dimensional tile and installed in a shingle pattern in Nordic tradition. From afar, the building will glow and shimmer a soft white against the green-forested mountain park. As one draws closer, the detail in the stonework will become apparent as a collection of individual elements that comprise the whole.

RF house

Photography by

  • Los Angeles
  • California
  • .

Openhouse

Photography by

  • Hollywood Hills
  • California
  • .

This residence is embedded into a sharply sloping hillside property, a challenging site that led to the creation of a house that is both integrated into nature and open to the city beyond.

The structure and detailing of the house is more complex than it appears. Extensive grading and terraced retaining walls were developed to extend the first floor living level into the hillside and to create a garden terraces on each level.

Steel beams were set perpendicular to and into the hillside to achieve the backspans necessary for the large cantilevers at the front of the building. Lateral steel clear spans fifty feet between these beams to create double cantilevers at the leading edge of the house and uninterrupted cinematic views over the city.

Front, side and rear elevations of the house slide open to erase all boundaries between indoors and out and connect the spaces to gardens and terraces on three levels.

Glass, in various renditions, is the primary wall enclosure material. There are forty-four floor-to-ceiling sliding glass panels, each run of which is configured to disappear into hidden pockets or to slide beyond the building perimeter.

Deep overhangs serve as solar protection for the double-pane glazing and become progressively larger as the main elevation of the building follows the hillside contours from Eastern to Southwestern exposure. Every elevation of the house opens to capture the prevailing breezes to passively ventilate and cool the house.

Glass in the form of fixed clear panels, mirror plate walls and sandblasted mirror panels lend lightness to the interior spaces. These glass walls are visually counterweighted by sculptural, solid elements in the house.

The fireplace is made of dry stacked granite, which continues as a vertical structural element from the living room floor through the second story. The main stair is charcoal concrete cantilevered from a structural steel tube.

Service and secondary spaces are clad in floor to ceiling rift oak panels with flush concealed doors. Several interior walls are dark stucco, an exterior material that wraps into the house.

Set in a visible hillside area above the city, the residence appears as a strong sculptural form developed at the scale of the large site. The logic of the architecture is developed directly from these site conditions: the building follows the site contours, the interior spaces extend to embrace nature and nature extends into and throughout the house.

The use of cut pebble flooring throughout the house, decks and terraces continues the indoor-outdoor materiality, which is amplified when the glass walls slide away. The building finishes are few in number but applied in a multiplicity of ways throughout the project, furthering the experience of continuous spaces from interior to exterior.

PCH Beach House

Photography by

  • Santa Monica
  • California
  • .

WO Residence

Photography by

  • Los Angeles
  • California
  • .

Arts District Lofts

Photography by

  • Los Angeles
  • California
  • .

The Arts District Lofts is a community oriented mixed use project located on an important corner parcel at Mateo and Palmetto Avenues in the burgeoning Arts District.

Currently the properties contain a series of underused warehouses and a tow yard. The site is bounded to the North by the thriving residential Barker and Molino Loft buildings, and to the East by new coffee shops and restaurants along Mateo Avenue.

The building is developed as an exposed concrete load bearing wall structure with a modular bay size, such that slip forms can be utilized to minimize the formwork and expedite the construction schedule. The other materials are glass, steel plate and some repurposed industrial oak detailing in the deck and on the stairs.

The design intention with this project is to draw these neighborhood qualities in and through the new series of offset buildings and courtyards.

The street level along both Palmetto and Mateo is conceived as a porous series of retail and restaurant spaces, with openings between to courtyards and access to work/live creative offices and studios.

The main urban street axis to the North is extended through the project, creating the primary North-South courtyard. Connections to the West are created with what will be a repurposed brick arched building into a farmers/ Chelsea market type use. Connections to the coffee shops and restaurants along Mateo are created with large solid/void openings between the retail volumes.

The residential program on the floors above the retail and conceived as a mix of large and small units, grouped into smaller modules of 4-8 unit volumes that are offset from one another, reducing the scale of the building from the street, and relating closely to the surrounding building heights.

The openness between the volumes also creates terraces, circulation/ gathering spaces and floating gardens for the residents to use. The residential gathering spaces include the rooftop deck/ pool area as well, with views toward the Downtown LA skyline.

Surfhouse

Photography by

  • Hermosa Beach
  • California
  • .

The Surfhouse appears as an abstract block of ebonized cedar a few blocks from the Pacific Ocean in Hermosa Beach. The site is very small. While typical lots in the area measure 120' x 40', the allowable building area for the Surfhouse measures just 33' x 24'.

XTEN approached the project by subtracting the larger program areas from a solid volumetric form that conformed to the zoning regulations and sought to maximize space, light, and views while also creating a sense of privacy and retreat for the young owners on a busy beachside street.

The facade is made from rough sawn, black stained cedar planks with volumetric openings at primary program spaces and a system of identical vertical casement windows arrayed across the secondary elevations for specific views and ventilation. The interior is all light and air, with bamboo floors and walls of glass that slide away to bring the beachside environment inside.

The domestic program is stacked vertically on the lot. Services and bedrooms are on the lower floors, with larger rooms pushed to the corners for light and views in multiple directions. The top floor and decks are completely open as continuous indoor / outdoor living spaces open to the beach and ocean.

Alta House

Photography by

  • Los Angeles
  • CA
  • .

The configuration of the house grew directly from these site features. The mass of the building follows the street, benching into the hillside to create a 2-story structure that is partially embedded into the hillside, minimizing the foundations required into bedrock. A curving masonry wall holds the street edge of the site, creating privacy from the passing cars. The house both engages with and pulls away from this site wall, creating a series of differentiated indoor and exterior spaces for gardens, an entry court, daylight and cross ventilation.

A structural system of piers and volumes anchor the free-flowing spaces between inside and outside. The walls shift in plan, at times engaging the edge of the building and at times receding to the glass line. The circulation, layout the structure of the house is orthogonal, but the asymmetrical configuration of the planes and columes framing diagonal views and a dynamic relationship between the house and the surrounding landscape.

Once inside the house, sliding glass walls open in every direction creating a sense of transparency and lightness. Natural daylight and air flow freely through the house, obviating need for air conditioning or daytime lighting. Rooftop photovoltaic panels, cisterns, gray water recycling, and high efficiency systems further minimize the energy footprint of the house.

Four Concrete Houses

Photography by

  • Los Angeles
  • CA
  • .

This project is located on 2 parcels in the flats of Los Angeles. The zoning allows for greater density than is typical on these size lots, creating the opportunity to create 2 small houses on each of the 2 parcels. The architectural challenge was how to provide privacy, openness, gardens, generous living space and the required parking and services within the small buildable envelope dictated by the lot sizes and zoning setbacks.

THe buildings are staggered on the site in order to create privacy and maximize outdoor garden spaces for each house. A shared driveway doubles as the main entrances to each house, creating an allee garden space, with grass pavers, whitewashed garden walls and planters lining the lane. Each house is entered through their garden, with a generous ground floor indoor-outdoor living space linking the house and garden.

The plan of each house is configured to be open in one direction for garden and views, and closed in the other for privacy. The second level of each house is one contiguous kitchen, living, dining space with balconies overlooking the garden. The top private floor contains three bedrooms and bathrooms. The main stair and circulation space frames double height windows, skylights and openings in the floor plates that create a ribbon of multi-story space and light linking the interior spaces.

For economic and ecological reasons, the buildings are conceived in structural "shotcrete" with fly ash content. The interior is finished in cement plaster over rigid insulation, creating a simple and unified construction assembly for the buildings. Roof mounted PV solar panels, drought resistant plantings, permeable paving and FSC millwork further reduce the energy profile of the project, which offers a new variant on the duplex typology for small parcels in the region.

Downtown LA Hotel

Photography by

  • Los Angeles
  • California
  • .

This new small hotel is conceived as a monolithic concrete structure, carved by a system of slots and slices that bring light, air and views deep into the building.

The site is an infill parcel in downtown Los Angeles which measures just 50x150 feet. The hotel is freestanding, surrounded on all sides by alleys and streets. This allows for slots to be cut into the façade, which contrast with and dematerialize the otherwise monolithic quality of the building.

The rooms and other program elements are conceived as solid volumes which float freely within the structural frame provided by the overall concrete monolith.

The glass enclosure line is set variably 5 to 20 feet back from the concrete perimeter to comply with fire codes. The double height slots multiply the facades and provide natural light, fresh air, views to the city, terraces, areas for plantings and art installations.

From the interior, the building is light, airy, with views from everywhere through the building to landscaping, other people, other parts of the building. The strategy cuts holes in the otherwise solid fabric of the building, exposing one use to another, creating moments of juxtaposition and unanticipated multi-story views through the building.

Openings in the concrete shell frame panoramic vistas South and West over the downtown Los Angeles.

Nakahouse

Photography by

  • Hollywood Hills
  • California
  • .

Nakahouse is an abstract remodel of a 1960's hillside house located on a West facing ridge in the Hollywood Hills, just below the Hollywood sign. To the South and West are canyon views; to the East is a protected natural ravine, with a view of Griffith Park Observatory in the distance.

The existing home was built as a series of terraced volumes on the downslope property. There was little relationship to the site, the interiors were closed to the views and were cut off from one another.

Due to geotechnical, zoning, budget and ecological considerations the foundations and building footprint were maintained in the current design. The interior was completely reconfigured however, and the exterior was opened up to the hillside views and the natural beauty of the surroundings.

An extreme cantilevered terrace was added to link the kitchen/ dining area with the living room, with a steel stair leading to a rooftop sundeck. Terraces were also added to the bedroom wing and the upper master bedroom suite to extend the interior spaces through floor to ceiling glass sliding panels that open and completely disappear into adjacent walls.

A series of abstract indoor-outdoor spaces with framed views to nature are rendered in white lacquered cabinetry, white concrete epoxy floors, white plaster and white steel. One room pours into another, eliminating clear division or division between spaces, and providing the illusion of weightlessness.

The series of interconnected terraced spaces connect the rooms to each other and to the outdoors, lending further to the concept of an 'uncontained' space, with no rigid beginnings or ends. Air moves freely through a circuit created by the new design - the home doesn't need or have air conditioning.

Environmentally, the house is designed to be passively cooled, with sliding glass panels that open in the North, East and West directions and take advantage of prevailing hillside breezes. Operable clerestory windows at the second floor create a thermal chimney to extract warm air from the residence, and a high performance Sarnofil roofing system minimizes heat gain from the roof.

Strategies of structural reinforcement were developed to re-use the existing foundations and framing, which eliminated the need for additional foundations and grading. High efficiency fixtures and appliances, recycled content in the concrete floors and interior furnishings, and drought resistant landscaping also add to the overall energy profile of the house.

The contrast between the interior and exterior of the house is intentional and total. While the interiors are light and fluid, the exterior walls are finished in a black, monolithic Meoded venetian plaster system. These deep black plaster walls act as a net, holding the home in place, while still allowing it to move in interesting directions.

The black exteriors add definition to an interior that tries to escape it. Although the footprint is still small, it is now rivaled by giant views through the floor to ceiling glass-sliding panels. Exteriors open up the breathtaking hillside, taking advantage of surroundings once disregarded by the original home.

Brentwood Residence

Photography by

  • Brentwood
  • California
  • .

The Brentwood residence is situated on a one acre hillside parcel in the low lying hills below the Getty Museum in Los Angeles. The downslope portion of the property faces South, with downtown views to the East and views to Palos Verdes and the Pacific Ocean to the West.

The ground floor of the main house is developed as a garden villa, with four separate pavilions distributed across the flat area of the site. The negative space formed by the disposition of these volumes becomes a free flowing indoor - outdoor living area that opens to gardens in every direction.

A process model shows the lower level terrace spaces and extra guest suites below the infinity edge pool.

A view of the approach and carport of the design process model displays the pure, monolithic mass of the building.

Generous proportions, skylights and floor to ceiling glass windows in the upper level elevator lobby and foyer areas allow ample natural light to fill the private spaces.

Stadtarchiv Luzern

Photography by

  • Luzern
  • Switzerland
  • .

The Luzern Stadtarchive is conceived as a marker in the landscape. In its organization and architectural expression the building is closely related to the site topography and adjacent mountains. It is the first building one sees from the street upon reaching this plateau above the city of Luzern.

Due to the complexity of the site access and orientation, the building addresses each elevation as a primary facade, with one large opening per elevation in the otherwise solid concrete body of the building. The East elevation is dominated by large panorama window the full width of the library volume.

The South elevation is the result of a smaller volume, similarly expressed with a large horizontal window to daylight the administrative spaces. The West elevation frames the entry plaza and foyer. The North elevation is oriented around a large clerestory glass wall to daylight the interior of the reading room.

The building is organized around the main magasin/ storage rooms of the Archiv, which arranged parallel to Ruopigenstrasse with four magasins on each of two levels. By locating the magasins below grade the majority of the site is maintained as landscape. The soil from the necessary excavation is used to landscape the plaza, the rooftops, and to berm against the archive, resulting in excellent energy efficiency, climate control and security for the archive documents.

Future growth of the archive is accommodated in a straightforward manner by extending magasin modules to the North based on the evolving requirements of the Stadtarchiv.

The structural bays and spacing of the magasins establish the structural bays for the Library, Reading Room and Office spaces located on the main level. Each of these spaces is oriented on the site according to their specific requirements, with a single circulation core at the center of the articulated pinwheel plan.

The public enters the library via a covered roof and large foyer with adjacent services. The library is transparent in the direction of travel from the entrance, with a roof that slopes gently upwards toward a wide window overlooking Luzern that provides ample natural daylight to the space.

The Reading Room is conceived as a cloistered space with the only light entering through a single large opening near the top of the 10m high volume. The base of this volume is formed by extending the magasin walls from below. The top of the volume is rotated to provide natural, balanced Northern daylight for the delicate documents being studied.

The Stadtarchiv is a white concrete building, formed in 50cm lifts, with a sandy cement mix rammed into the formwork to achieve joint lines that are slightly irregular. The concrete walls register the accumulation of the concrete pours with the same naturalness that sedimentation is rendered in geological cross sections. The intention is that the material and the volumetric forms of the building will create a resonance between the Stadtarchive and that greater natural landscape.

Cliff House

Photography by

  • Limassol
  • Cyprus
  • .

Silverspur

Photography by

  • Palos Verdes
  • California
  • .

Silverspur is a 30,000 square foot renovation to a modernist office building located on the Palos Verdes peninsula in Southern California. On the interior small offices were removed to create large, open loft spaces and sustainable design elements were integrated. On the exterior a new facade was developed to both increase the energy efficiency of the building and create a transformative new building image.

A green roof was added to provide thermal mass and insulate the interior from solar gain, which also provides storm water collection and percolation on site, reducing additional loads into the storm drain system. Radiant heat was added below the new concrete topping slabs to reduce reliance on the forced-air heating system. New high-efficiency fixtures and equipment, recycled carpeting and tile were added throughout the building, and full height vision glass was used to maximize daylight and reduce the need for artificial light.

The building facade is composed of perforated, micro-laminated solar fabric stretched over steel frames that are anchored to the cantilevered concrete building slabs at various angles depending on solar orientation and building program. The solar fabric reflects 80% of the incoming solar gain while allowing for full transmission of natural daylight. From inside the building one has complete vision of the landscape and city beyond. The cladding also changes throughout the day depending on the position of the sun, appearing opaque in the direct sun and translucent as the sun moves oblique to the facade.

Muscat Villa

Photography by

  • Muscat
  • Oman
  • .

This new 65,000sf hotel is conceived as a monolithic concrete structure, carved by a system of slots and openings that brings light, air and views deep into the building.

One enters the compound through the a gate in the North site wall, crossing a reflecting pool and tranquil shade garden before ascending a few steps to the front door. The walls of this exterior entry court are stacked stone quarried from the local mountains, which carry through into the entry foyer.

The main floor is oriented along a North-South axis, with walls of stone and full height mahogany paneling. From the entry foyer and central gallery, one sees diagonal views to the gardens through the living spaces, gardens at the end of the gallery, an interior garden in the central courtyard/ circulation space, and patterned daylight from a large skylight over the double height stairway space.

All the main living, dining and family spaces are oriented along the Western edge of the building, framing and opening to a generous garden area and views. Large cantilevered roofs protect the floor to ceiling glass doors, which slide open and disappear into adjacent walls. These roofs also shelter exterior seating and dining areas as extensions of the interior spaces.

In contrast to the openness of the main floor, the upstairs bedroom floor is quite private and closed. The glass walls are set deep within the building, with exterior patterned screens for privacy and sun protection. There is a private living room upstairs and several bedroom/ bath suites for family.

Sagaponac House

Photography by

  • Hamptons
  • New York
  • .

Invited to design a weekend house for the second phase of the acclaimed architectural development the Houses at Sagaponac, XTEN Architecture conceived of the residence as a single sloped sculptural volume relating to the horizontal scale of the landscape.

The rooms, terraces and porches are gathered under and sheltered by this large and embracing roof form. The primary geometry of the house is evocative of both the low slung shingle style structures and the classic modernist architecture renowned in the Hamptons.

The simplicity of the exterior form of the house belies a spatial complexity on the interior, as rooms, terraces and courtyards of varying ceiling heights flow from the outside to the inside and back again. The house is organized as two angled wings around a courtyard, each of which open and connect to a large south facing covered porch.

The West wing comprises the social spaces; kitchen, dining and living areas, which culminate in a double height space that opens in three directions to the landscape. The East wing contains the guest bedroom suites, each oriented to private views of nature. The South facing covered porch opens to a generous pool terrace with full length steps that connect to the meadow grasses. Above this covered porch is the master bedroom suite with its own roof deck.

The interior and exterior walls are clad in gray vertical cedar planks, which reinforce the solidity and singularity of the architectural form. Glass is the only other primary enclosure material, in the form of large fixed panels and long spans of sliding glass walls that disappear into hidden wall slots.

The use of wood flooring throughout the house, decks and terraces continues the indoor-outdoor materiality, which is amplified when the glass walls slide away. The layered, indoor-outdoor spaces are at once open and closed, modern and vernacular, while the house creates a strong profile on the landscape and a sense of place in the fields and woods of Sagaponac.

Bel Air Residence

Photography by

  • Bel Air
  • California
  • .

The Bel Air Residence is sited on a four acre hillside site with a variety of natural characteristics that directly influence the development of the project.

The site is steep - 150 vertical feet from the entry point at the top to the lowest point of the property. The upper site is a promontory, with views over Beverly Hills.

The lower site is lush and wooded, framed by ravines to the East and West with a network of nature trails that lend it a park like atmosphere.

The architectural concept follows the existing hillside topography, creating a series of terraced spaces that trace the natural contours of the hillside.

The approach both minimized the excavations, allowing for a net zero grading condition, and maximized the opportunities to open the interior spaces to the beautiful natural setting.

The upper, private quarters are expressed as a carved sculptural object. The lower story is cut into the hillside and rendered in solid stone walls.

Between these two bands of program is the main living/ entertaining level which is largely transparent, with walls of that slide away and open onto a generous terrace overlooking the pool area.

The living room, galleries, library and office are located to the East of this main floor, the latter in contained volumes set within the overall building.

Diamondhouse

Photography by

  • Santa Monica
  • California
  • .

The Diamond house is a music studio extension to a house located deep in a canyon, set against a severely sloping hillside, with minimal access and little space upon which to build. Direct sunlight reaches the site for only a few hours a day.

The geotechnical conditions on site were challenging, requiring 30-foot caissons to underpin new walls and foundations. A complex web of regulations governed the height, width, depth and specific configuration of the retaining walls needed to build the project.

Given these constraints, the extension is carefully positioned between the existing structure and an imposing hillside to inflect the landscape and create exterior programmatic spaces (firepit, terraces) around it. A series of wall planes fold up and over the building to create a rooftop railing and privacy for the sundeck.

The building material system was developed to relate the new extension to the natural landscape and also to reduce the visual scale of the building. The facade pattern was created from natural elements taken from the canyon site; abstracted, scaled and arrayed across the building in laser cut fiber cement panels.

The panels impart a delicate quality to the otherwise hard edged and programmatically driven geometry of the building. Daylight brings out the etched lines and patterned edges of the cement panels, which in direct sunlight appear as thin as a ceramic vase.

Sapphire Gallery

Photography by

  • Encino
  • California
  • .

This residential addition is designed to display a private art collection, while also providing domestic spaces with views to the surrounding hills and creating a compelling new focal point for the approach and entry to the property.

The owners' collection includes works by several well known contemporary artists including Uta Barth, Gregory Crewsdon, Tomoroy Dodge and the video artist Jennifer Steinkamp.

The owners requested a building that would be more than just a container for these pieces. They did not want neutral, and asked that the new building have sculptural qualities that would relate to both the existing 1960's modern house and also the art pieces, many of which have geometric and architectural characteristics.

To create the space for the new extension an existing garage was demolished. The new structure was developed as an extension of the circulation spine of the existing house, and lifted off the ground to create secondary spaces below and around the structure.

The new extension frames an open ground plane that now connects the back gardens to the main entry courtyard. This new hardscape/landscape area is used by the family as a sports/play area for their children, for art parties and for video projections.

A structural system of lightweight braced frames was developed to achieve the double cantilevers at each end of the trapezoidal building. The single story trusses are composed of welded tube steel sections that were factory built and assembled by crane on site in one working day.

They are fixed to moment frames that clear span the open ground plane in the perpendicular direction, allowing the floor and roof diaphragms to be framed conventionally. The system proved to be a remarkably simple and flexible way to achieve the program parameters of the project.

The remaining details of dark quartz pebble flooring, white steel stairs and perforated steel railings, full height pivot doors, and walls of UV treated glass are designed as a quiet backdrop to the artworks and natural surroundings.

An array of photovoltaic cells on the South facing sloped roof produces an average of 15kWh per day, enough to supply all the energy for the new building with a surplus directed towards the main house.

Himmelrain

Photography by

  • Sissach
  • Switzerland
  • .

Himmelrain is a series of nine apartment buildings set in a small town near Basel, Switzerland. In order to maintain the natural beauty, sightlines and access through the site, a planning strategy developed to evenly distribute many small buildings across the site rather than create fewer large buildings or conventional courtyard blocks.

The staggered, irregular distribution of buildings loosely fits the contingencies of the site and maintains public access and sight lines to the surrounding countryside. There are five units per building, each developed with adjustable, non-structural partition walls wrapped around a compact core. The buildings themselves are conceived as a stack of different materials... each responding to specific adjacencies and site conditions.

The garden maisonette units are masonry, with deep-set bronze windows for privacy and glass walls that slide away so the facades to open directly to terraces and gardens. The second floor flats are clad entirely in clear glass to increase the sense of transparency from both the interior, in spatial terms, and from the exterior, where the transparent middle zone of the building has the effect of reducing the scale of the overall building mass.

A series of zinc-clad, curved structural shells create the high sloping ceilings of the top floor units. These differentiated roof forms give the new neighborhood its own greater identity... a second landscape visible from the surrounding areas that reinterprets the tradition of expressive roof forms found in the region.

Coop Zentrum

Photography by

  • Sissach
  • Switzerland
  • .

The COOP Zentrum is a 100,000 square foot multi-use new building located in a small town in Baselland, Switzerland.

The site is a full city block located between the train station and the Main Street in the town, one of the last open sites in the urban framework of housing, shops, restaurants and small alleys that connects Main Street to the train station. One of the primary ideas behind the building is to connect train station -for many the main entry/ departure point to the town -with the town's Main Street.

The process of assembling the parcels and developing the program has been a community effort, teaming the developer with the town and the individual tenants as stakeholders in the project. The program developed as a combination of retail on the ground floor, with offices and residential apartments with courtyards on the upper floors. Several floors of below grade parking will serve the building, the train station and public parking for the town.

A central courtyard will connect the train station with the main street through a network of open air passages, creating a multi-level market square and performance space framed by a turn of the century former hotel to the North and the new multi-use building to the South.

Dubai ZPO Tower

Photography by

  • Dubai
  • UAE
  • .

The site plan for the Za'abeel Park Observation (ZPO) Tower is organized according to a traditional Islamic geometric pattern found in the regions' decorative arts. At the scale of the plaza, this pattern takes the form of the granite paving, lines of grass, flowers and trees, and a ribbon of water that draws one in and through the base of the ZPO Tower. This same pattern at a larger scale delineates four distinct landforms around the base of the tower, creating different pathways and approaches to the base as well as providing required program spaces for parking, conference center, children's library and service areas.

A flexible conference center for one hundred persons is located along a pathway to the North of the tower, with access to the lake, Za'abeel Park and a garage located within a second landform. A Children's Library is located in a smaller landform adjacent to the main tower entry, and a fourth landform shielding the site from highway traffic is provided for mechanical and service spaces.

The Islamic pattern is rendered in different grasses and plantings at a larger scale over these landforms, with the intention that they are accessible for the public to climb upon and to sit to watch the crowds or the lights of the tower above. The landforms serve to both frame and guide the activity around the entry points to the tower and also to create a gradual transition between the scale of the ZPO Tower and the larger Za'abeel Park as it extends to the North and West.

The intention is for the ZPO Tower to be built as a net zero energy tower. Several hundred square meters of thin film photovoltaic solar will clad the horizontal planes of the upper petal roofs and the Southern, Western and Eastern exposures of the tower. The main program areas are located beneath landforms with green roofs to reduce solar gain. Geothermal cooling and ventilation will serve these program areas. All the water used on the site will be recycled, and the majority of the building materials will come from recycled sources. Estimates are that the solar energy alone will generate enough electricity to illuminate and power the building.

The ZPO Tower has been developed in plan, sections and elevation with reference to both the Islamic pattern developed in the site planning and the geometric qualities of certain desert flowers native to the region. There are six tubes set in a 30m diameter, with three inner tubes and three outer tubes. The inner tubes comprise the circulation system for the tower; one containing the elevators, one containing an open stair and one containing an enclosed, fire-rated emergency egress stair. These three inner tubes are shaped according to their function and also to provide lateral structural support for the dynamic configuration of the three outer tubes.

The three outer tubes are articulated to describe a 270-degree rotation around an invisible cylinder defined by the original Islamic pattern. At the base the tubes open and expand into petals of open air steel structure with a continuous cladding of monocrystalline solar panels at the Southern and Western exposures. As the three outer tubes rise they begin to open and expand into larger petals that cantilever out 70m in each direction at the top of the tower. Inside these upper petals are dramatic spaces that contain a cafe and six interconnected indoor and outdoor observation deck areas on two levels.

The structure of this tower is comprised of a steel diagrid system, interlaced with additional steel members that follow the lines from the pattern at plaza level of the site. The intention is that the structural pattern, derived from traditional Islamic patterns, becomes the expression of the ZPO Tower. At times this structural pattern may be more open as building loads are dispersed, and at times they may be so dense that they resemble the traditional mashrabiyya screens found in the regional architecture.

This braced frame structure is laterally reinforced every 30m by horizontal diaphragms connecting between three and six tubes in any one instance. At the base and top transitions bent moment frames support the horizontal diaphragms. The geometric organization of the tower results in a form that naturally sheds wind and allows it to pass through and around the aerodynamic upper forms. An 8m diameter wind dampening mass is located at the center of the upper tower to further compensate for any wind loads.

The petals at the top of the tower are oriented towards specific views and directions that resonate with both the past and future of Dubai. The first petal is aligned with Mecca, to the Southwest of the project site. Moving clockwise at the top of the ZPO Tower, the second petal is directed toward the old town of Deira, a neighborhood of traditional souks, mosques, old fortress walls and wind towers. From the observation deck in the third petal of the tower one surveys the changing skyline along Sheikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Road. _______________________________________________________________________________________________________________ Project done in collaboration with Coen + Partners Landscape Architects and Thornton Tomasetti Structural Engineering.

See Park

Photography by

  • Liestal
  • Switzerland
  • .

The canton capitol city of Liestal, Switzerland aspired to connect an outdated train station that is used by thousands every day to the old medieval quarter and city center. The two areas are currently separated by parking lots, factories and a 20-meter elevation change. If the historic core was represented by rings of development around the first medieval church, the train station area was to be a modern, straight vector of velocity.

Landscaped bridges, a lake in lieu of a parking lot and a series of narrow profile apartment buildings that filtered and directed ones view from the train station toward the old town connected these two irreconcilable areas. Hotel and bank blocks across from the station were lifted off the ground to create visual transparencies to the old town, allowing the exterior urban spaces to penetrate the buildings and the buildings to become public bridges between the rail station and the main town.

Other program elements such as artists housing and community schools were developed with their cores and circulation zones along the rail and large expanses of glass on the opposite side opening to views and landscape. Older buildings were redefined and reinvigorated as museum spaces and artists studios. Reworking the urban fabric of this growing city with enhanced public spaces and carefully articulated buildings serves to connect the periphery of the city to its visual and historic center.

Bodrum Residence

Photography by

  • Bodrum
  • Turkey
  • .

XTEN recently starts a new residential project in Bodrum, Turkey. The site is on the top of Yalikavak hill along the Aegean Sea, with a panorama view from the city to the ocean. More project information will be coming soon.

Macapa Drive

Photography by

  • Hollywood Hills
  • California
  • .

Macapa Drive is located on a ridge behind the Hollywood Bowl, above Mulholland Drive, with views over Los Angeles from downtown to the Pacific Ocean.

City zoning parameters required that the new design maintain the both the footprint and the height of the original building on the property. The architecture concept developed from the roof down. A thin steel structure with exposed framing, cantilevered overhangs and braced frames was developed in order to maximize the interior room heights and minimize the impediments to the view.

The main floor level developed as an open living, dining, kitchen area, with full height sliding glass walls opening out onto a 2000sf terrace to the South and a lush garden to the East.

A new stairway was added to access additional bedrooms built below the downslope terrace, opening onto an outdoor entertainment area and infinity pool dramatically cantilevered out from the granite hillside.

Mhouse

Photography by

  • Marina del Rey
  • California
  • .

The Mhouse is an artists' work/live/gallery complex located in the arts district of Venice Beach, California. The conceptual framework for the building took the form of two interlocking L-shaped volumes, one dedicated to the art studios and one for domestic functions, configured around a central courtyard - the new focal point of the artists' compound.

The painter's studio required a large, raw space with high ceilings and abundant natural light and ventilation. Facing the courtyard, the painter's studio flows into the courtyard space through a double height glass garage door and can be opened on the opposite side for indoor/outdoor painting. Support spaces and galleries wrap around the courtyard and link the painter's studio to the living spaces. A red stair leads to the master suite, a series of decks and a rooftop atelier with ocean and mountain views.

The building is oriented on the site to maximize passive cooling during the summer and in the winter radiant floor heating warms the spaces. Recycled fly-ash was used in the concrete floors throughout and the galvalum cladding has 80% recycled content. These metal panels were used almost exclusively on the exterior of the project, as roof, wall, soffit, canopy - providing continuity between adjacent surfaces to reinforce the concept of the work/live compound as inter-related and inter-dependent elements.

Schonberg Park

Photography by

  • Bern
  • Switzerland
  • .

The Schonberg Park Apartments are designed around the idea of living amongst the trees and the picturesque landscape outside of Bern, Switzerland. The building forms were abstracted from local typologies - Villa, House, Barn - and configured on the site to carefully deflect around and thread between the existing trees on the site. Differences in plan and elevation allow for both privacy and views to the Park from every apartment, and also for the neighbors across the lane maintain a direct connection to Schonberg Park.

The glazing is proposed with an imprint of the trees which acts like a light drapery on the building, filtering the sunlight to interior spaces in the manner of tree canopies over-head. From the outside, the patterns will enter into a visual relationship with the existing trees and register on different facades at different scales.

Other local materials and forms were transformed and utilized for the project: traditional Bernese roof forms clad in ceramic tiles, operable exterior shutters and cobblestones that were to be used for all the ground level flooring. Schonberg Park developed as a regrouping of forces: the buildings accumulate into form and construction, and then disperse into pattern and landscape.

Vhouse

Photography by

  • Sherman Oaks
  • California
  • .

The Vhouse fits into its canyon site like a pavilion. Four bearing walls are oriented perpendicular to the hillside and follow the site lines of the v-shaped lot. The folds and cantilevers of the roof geometry are articulated to respond to specific site conditions: turned down at the street edge to create privacy; folded up above the bearing walls to gain light from the sides; and sloped up again at the rear of the site to open the interior spaces to the hillside through full-scale glass.

The courtyard is planned as an outdoor room around which the different types of day and nighttime living are organized. Direct access from the open kitchen allows for outdoor dining and entertaining throughout the year, while secondary openings in the bearing walls allow for access from the bedrooms in the mornings.

Minimal detailing and materiality is indivisibly bound to the architectural concept. The bearing walls are clad in wide redwood planks that wrap continuously from exterior to interior. The non-structural infill facades are made of fine redwood slat panels alternating with open glass zones. The exposed wood framing overhead aligns with these alternating solid/void areas, generating a series of continuous lines that articulate the interior space, extend into the courtyard and frame the landscape beyond.

Summit Drive

Photography by

  • Beverly Hills
  • California
  • .

Summit Drive is an outdoor living/ entertaining extension to a modern steel and glass home originally built in the nineteen seventies.

Ford/Ching

Photography by

  • Los Angeles
  • California
  • .

FordBrady was built as a vaudeville theater in the 1920's, which was then converted to a Chinese language cinema in the 1940's, and has now been converted into 12,500sf lofts and neighborhood retail spaces serving the emergent art scene in Chinatown.

Natural light enters the project through a 2,200 square foot courtyard cut into the former dark box of the theatre.

This new courtyard serves as the main gathering space to the complex and links the various spaces to adjacent streets.

The courtyard facade is made of operable resin impregnated plywood panels alternating with vertical fixed glass panels.

The operable wall calibrates the perception between the indoor/outdoor and private/public spaces in the project. Looking from inside towards the courtyard, the vertical frames capture thin slices of the outdoor activity.

When the solid panels are completely opened the interior loft space becomes contiguous with the exterior courtyard.

The primary loft was created by terracing the sloping floor of the original auditorium space.

The resulting multi-level showroom, living and sleeping spaces are defined by new white forms set within the existing roof and red brick walls of the theater.

The ceiling and exposed wood trusses are continuous over the enclosed service volumes, maintaining the scale of the original theater space from every vantage point.

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