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Sanjay Gangal
Sanjay Gangal
Sanjay Gangal is the President of IBSystems, the parent company of, MCADCafe, EDACafe.Com, GISCafe.Com, and ShareCG.Com.

Vortex House in Malibu, California by murmur

February 28th, 2011 by Sanjay Gangal

vortex n, a mass of fluid (as a liquid) with a whirling or circular motion that tends to form a cavity in the center, and to draw toward this cavity bodies subject to its action.

The project’s ambition lies in its dramatic spatial and climatic modulation and the saturation of its interior with visual and physical material of the surrounding site. The surrounding geometric and topographic features, and the air currents these features produce, are drawn into the interior to condition its atmosphere. The man-made and the natural are characterized as of the same fluid medium, and the house is a vortex into which this material is drawn. This ambition informs each part of the house’s organization: its five-sided sculpted form, environmental control system, folded roofscape, exterior wrapper and involuted covered patios.

Vortex House - Exterior Rendering

  • Architect: murmur
  • Location: Malibu, California
  • Materials: Steel and timber frame, zinc roofing, plaster, stucco exterior walls
  • Dimensions: 1276 sf interior, 468 sf
  • Other: covered patio
  • Year: 2008-present

Vortex House - Interior Rendering


The five-sided sculpted form of the house maximizes the visual exposure of the interior spaces to the distant mountain and ocean views providing no fewer than two surfaces with large apertures to draw in the site’s natural geometries. The folded roofscape rises and falls dynamically, modulating the living spaces beneath it. The exterior wrapper defines a taut building form with involutions that define two covered patios and an uncovered central courtyard.

Vortex House - Interior Rendering


Natural cooling is achieved throughout the house using several strategies. Apertures are placed to take advantage of the prevailing winds. The courtyard of the house is a vortex of circulation, drawing hot air into its center and forcing it out the top through a chimney effect. The patio cover shades south-facing windows to significantly reduce heat gain.

The patio cover also provides outdoor living space within the house footprint leaving more of the site available for native
landscaping. The house itself is extremely compact to reduce the amount of site disruption and energy needed to condition the space.

The roof is made of zinc, which is clean enough to harvest rainwater and is 100% recyclable. Its durability is unmatched and requires virtually no maintenance. The dramatic folds of the roof experienced on the underside of the ceiling provide ample space for hot air to rise above the area where people live.

Vortex House - Exterior Rendering


This house occupies a site in the rugged bluffs of Malibu overlooking the Pacific. Its hillside location presents stunning views in all directions. Its exterior wrapper is thus intentionally lengthened by a five-sided building form and the introduction of a south-facing patio. This wrapper provides each room with at least two exposures to the distant views. The shape of the window apertures rhythmically coalesces with the extrinsic geometry of distant ridge lines and the intrinsic geometry of the building form. The window sill folds down from counter height to the floor, to incorporate doors into large wall openings. From the interior, large openings in the wrapper reveal the dramatically modulated topography of the site, and draw the natural topographic forms inward. From the northeast to northwest, the ground rises quickly. From the southeast to southwest, the ground drops away dramatically to a panoramic ocean view. These multiple profiles combine to saturate the building’s interior with both natural and constructed geometries.


Form and organization

The house is constructed of two structural systems nested within one another. A steel frame draws the spatial modulation of the interior and stiffens the folded roof plane. Conventional timber framing infills the frame to stiffen the walls and rests above the folded roof plane for a thermally efficient roof. The spatial ambition of the house is impossible without the use of structural hybridity. Force follows material so uncommon distributions of material require structural ingenuity. In this case, two systems are collapsed allowing force to slip back and forth between them.


Site Plan




Roof Diagram



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Category: House

One Response to “Vortex House in Malibu, California by murmur”

  1. Vortex House in Malibu, California by murmur # @ AECCafe.Com

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