Q: What happens when a rocket engineer decides to design and build a house and guest house on a beautiful chaparral site at the top of Foothill bordering the trails of the Los Padres National Forest and then charge his family with coming up with certifiably crazy re-modelling projects over the next dozen years?
A: A truly bizarre, Bavarian inflected three (or four or five) story manse riddled with incongruity, illegality and plain old lunacy.
Upon purchasing the late 1970’s house in 2016, and hiring db:a to assist them, our intrepid clients were determined,
To explore strange new worlds
To seek out new life and new civilizations
To boldly go where no family has gone before……
Before lift-off, it was necessary to demolish about 40% of the square footage that had been built without permits and in contravention of the zoning ordinance. We attempted to scrape away the lawless appendages and reveal/resuscitate the beating heart/rocket engine of the original, permitted house.
Their bravery was never in doubt, nor was their faith in their architect. Together, we made sense of the senseless and civilized the un-civilized square footage of this strange project. Out of it all we sought to create a house that took advantage of its glorious setting and peerless views while providing for their refined twenty-first century aesthetic (he is a photographer she, an artist) their family needs (they have a four year old son) and work requirements of a north-lit studio.
We abandoned the rickety stair way that led up from the driveway to the second, living story of the house and created instead a broad entry deck to the east of the studio that is accessed from the street. Entering beneath the shade of the overhanging studio roof, the breezeway opens up to a linear deck over the site of the erstwhile, second level swimming pool (now a sunken courtyard) and the front door of the main structure - and within this gutted shell we inserted an exemplary artifact of the 21st century: an environment shaped to the needs of a modern, terrestrial family.