Montalba Architects, the Santa Monica-based architecture firm has completed a Southern California single-family residence designed to meld together indoor and outdoor programs by tethered courtyards and gardens. By highlighting elements of the natural landscape and emphasising decluttered simplicity, the firm demonstrates its unique expertise in integrating a sensibility to the program, materials, and natural light while maintaining a larger vision towards something conceptual in both residential and commercial projects.
The airy Venice Beach home was designed with the intent of blurring the lines between indoor and outdoor spaces to achieve a warm, tranquil home. The design began with its exterior, to ensure the family could enjoy the perks of Southern California’s year-round mild climate. The general sense of warmth throughout the home is driven by the use of natural materials like wood. By contrast, the concrete block walls give the home an almost mid-century sensibility while clearly creating a dialogue with the wood and other earth tones. Woven into the home’s design are three ‘gardens,’ all varying in scale and function. The larger garden creates drama, while two smaller gardens allow for intimacy and moments of pause. A series of parallel datum walls constructed of concrete blocks anchor the gardens and organise the interior spaces around the exterior space.
“With this home, the clients were open to us guiding them toward the larger ideas and given Southern California’s temperate climate it was important to make spaces where they could enjoy the outdoors from anywhere within the home,” said founding principal David Montalba. “It’s been particularly rewarding to see the home become part of the family’s framework, and to see them enjoying its modern warmth and landscape.”
The main gathering spaces (living room, family room, kitchen, and pool house) feature sliding glass doors adjacent to cement block walls. When fully opened, interior and exterior spaces are completely contiguous, which supports a tranquil energy and warmth throughout the home. The materiality of the concrete block walls evokes a sense of heaviness and provide a visual, monolithic mass between floors while anchoring the horizontal planes of the home in the landscape. Wood siding wraps the perimeter and sits atop the cement walls, lifting and lightening the massing to create a welcoming balance between earthy and modern.
Photo credit: Kevin Scott