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Akron Twin Residences in Pacific Palisades, California by Predock_Frane Architects
March 10th, 2012 by Sanjay Gangal
Article source: Predock_Frane Architects
This project is located in the Palisades, a hilly region between the Pacific Ocean and the Santa Monica Mountains within an existing 1950’s housing development. The project consists of two twin houses sited adjacent to each other on a steep slope above a seasonal watershed. In this project we were interested in exploring the intersection of two classic California building typologies; the courtyard house and the hillside house. This intersection was then further complicated by the overlay of two unsynchronized jurisdictional height envelope parameters that very explicitly controlled the volumetric limits of the structures.
The building program was extensive relative to total city allowances, so we started by intersecting the two envelopes, and then pierced this volume with two courtyards, altering the hillside typology into a hillside/courtyard hybrid.
This typological hybrid ‘corrected’ certain shortcomings in the hillside prototype. The central courtyard creates a large protected outdoor living space secluded from direct engagement with adjacent properties. The main courtyard and adjacent courtyard/recesses pierce the entire volume of the house creating light shafts to rooms typically ‘buried’ in the hillside and further expanding direct access to grounded exterior spaces.
Materially the exterior of the houses are clad in 12″ wide cedar plank, the exterior surface is rough cut, transiting to smooth finish on its interior surfaces. The windows and the interiors of the courtyards are smooth white light reflective surfaces to further transmit light deep into the house.
Predock_Frane Architects was established by Hadrian Predock and John Frane in the year 2000 as a collaborative research and development design studio. The work of their practice ranges from small scale installations to large public venues. Seeking to open new territories for locality and specificity, they utilize a process of “generative repetition” – a methodology that focuses on mapping specific existing morphologies, actions, systems, and material conditions, then generating and forecasting new architectural results based upon their findings.
Predock_Frane was named one of ten emerging architectural firms by Architectural Record, and in 2005, as one of six emerging international firms by the Architectural League in New York. They were selected to represent the United States in the US Pavilion for the Venice Biennale, participated in the Cooper Hewitt Design Triennial – Design Life Now, and recently had exhibitions at the LA Forum Gallery in Los Angeles, and Pomona College Museum of Art.
Sustainability has been a driving force in Predock Frane’s design practice since its inception, and a thorough integration of intelligent environmental strategies underpins all of their work. Rather than applying a monolithic solution, the most efficient approach is carefully assessed for each individual project. Notable sustainable projects include the Center for Gravity Foundation Hall (using locally sourced materials, rammed earth walls for full passive/diurnal heat measures, a geothermal closed loop system for radiant heating, and multiple day lighting strategies which almost entirely eliminate the need for artificial light), the Guadalajara International Book Fair Pavilion (utilizing locally sourced, reusable shipping palettes to create a rich exhibition space that is entirely “re-lifed” when dismantled), and the recently designed public art installation for the city of Perth, Australia (creating an urban oasis that modulates the harsh local environment, enhances the performance of the plaza, and is entirely energy independent, making a strong public statement for civic responsibility).
John and Hadrian have taught at UCLA, Tulane and Berkeley. Predock_Frane’s work has won numerous awards including multiple Nation and Local American Institute of Architects Honor Awards. Their work has been published internationally, and they have lectured widely.
John Frane is a licensed Architect in the State of California; Hadrian Predock is a licensed Architect in the States of California and Arizona.
John Frane was born in Minneapolis, Minnesota, and received his BArch in 1993 from the University of Texas at Austin. Hadrian Predock was born in Albuquerque, New Mexico, and received his MArch in 1993 from Harvard’s Graduate School of Design.
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