A research scientist with an eye for detail approached Studio VARA with a modest vision and a couple of basic practical needs: First, transform a 1908 Noe Valley cottage– with a history of subpar alterations – into a cohesive modern dwelling. Second, provide an enclosed garage in a neighborhood with tough parking.
This project consists of a single-story addition and renovation to an existing mid-century ranch house in Menlo Park, California.
Conceived for a retired couple, the open and accessible design integrates the living space with the rear garden to create a well-lit domestic extension. Comprised of two floating volumes, the addition formally designates the bedroom to the west and the main (common) space to the east. The two wings gradually diverge from the original structure to generate a glass-clad fissure in between. This void space pulls the garden inwards, injecting elements of the outdoors into the core of the house.
Formerly a parking lot on the southeast corner of Fulton and Gough streets, the Drs. Julian + Raye Richardson Affordable Apartments has risen on one of the sites freed for development by the demolition of the collapsed Central Freeway. This five-story building will provide permanent supportive housing for a very-low-income, formerly homeless population.
In the little-known neighborhood of Hermon, located just outside of downtown Los Angeles, a dilapidated 1920’s bungalow has undergone a major remodel, bringing new life to the old structure. The new addition to the front of the house forms a unique alliance with the remodeled existing house. This new frontispiece appears to be intimately nested within the older existing house, while maintaining a stark differentiation. The frontispiece has been clad in a clear cedar which contrasts the torched cedar that wraps the rest of the structure. The front addition integrates the house with the adjacent streetscape as it terraces down to the sidewalk and forms a long bench.
G House is a 610 sq. ft. (57 sq. m.) secondary guest unit up on the hill of Monterey Park near Downtown Los Angeles. In a tiny, odd-shaped site, with a lot of code restrictions and a tight budget, Design Initiatives successfully created a functional floor layout scheme with a garage, kitchen, dining, living areas and a full bathroom.
The main floor sits at garden level. It contains the common spaces, beginning with a view balcony at the front of the house that extends from the living room, back to a large, kitchen/dining area that opens to rear, outdoor living spaces.
The owners, inspired by mid-century modern architecture, hired Klopf Architecture to help them decide: remodel and add to a 1940s modern house or start fresh with an Eichler-inspired 21st-Century, energy efficient, all new home that would work for their family of three. With the decision made to start over, Klopf and the owners planned a home that follows the gentle slope of the hillside while the overarching post-and-beam roof above provides an unchanging datum line. Every square foot of the house remains close to the ground creating a sense of connection with nature. The resulting increase in ceiling height with each step-down helps create the hierarchy of the public spaces (living room is tallest, then dining, then kitchen, then entry). A rational layout based on four-foot-wide beam bays brings a calm composure to the space while the central stacked stone fireplace chimney shooting up through a skylight contrasts that with some fanfare.
A steeply sloping property in the Franklin Hills neighborhood of Los Angeles is the site for this 200 square foot writer’s studio, labeled the “Black Box” for its minimal geometry and dark stained cladding.
The City of Berkeley sought to construct a library that would both serve as a model for sustainable design as well as a community hub for its culturally diverse neighborhood. With the existing library spatially out of date for contemporary requirements and future adaptability, the design team recommended the construction of a new zero net energy (ZNE) structure. Extensive study had revealed the embodied energy required to construct a new ZNE facility would be offset by the ongoing cost of maintaining the existing structure within one year’s time.
Retrospect Vineyards, a 20-acre plot in the Russian River Valley, has been producing pinot noir grapes and selling them to nearby wineries for fifteen years. However, when the new owners bought the property in 2010 they knew they wanted to have a greater involvement in the winemaking process. The result was a modern home designed to function as both a family retreat and a working vineyard, respecting the privacy of the residents without hampering the functionality of the land.