This project was produced for the comprehensive last studio of UCLA's core sequence. Building on Los Angeles’ strong tradition of experimental residential steel structures, we were asked to further push the possibilities of steel construction in our designs. The given site, located on a canal in Venice California, is extremely narrow and long, with relatively wide side yard setbacks. Due to the geometry of the site, and to the fact that access is limited to one of its narrow faces and that the beautiful canal view is on the other, the site is clearly oriented lengthwise. Therefore, the most significant design moves have been informed by the desire to guide movement, flows, and views across the site to follow this directionality. The system of louvered slatting following ruled surfaces allows for a maximum of flexibility in skin strategy, while still maintaining access to light and views on the sculptural side walls. The slats were made structural rather than simply decorative because the site is so narrow, space is at such a premium, and flow through that space is so important, that a standard heavy gauge steel frame would be too much of an intrusion. Vertical loads are transmitted through thin rectangular structural steel tubing, distributing the loads through the entire long side facades.
The torqued central stair, with treads attached to parallel sets of tube steel members, is an important focal point around which the house’s program is deployed. The culminating end point of the stair at the roof is capped by a waterproof glass hatch manufactured for yachts, which opens onto a roof deck. The structural system of the house allows almost the entire envelope to be glazed, maintaining views yet still modulating solar heat gain, as the slats act as louvers. The glazing assists in heightening the visual effects of parallax and moiré generated by the slats. The dematerialization of the structure of the house into a thin scrim produces an uncanny sensation when one realizes that there are no vertical structural elements other than what initially appear to be solely louvers. This effect is heightened by the fact that there is a reveal between grade level and the bottom of the slats (the load is transferred to a beam that sits on a grade curb), causing the slats - and by extension the entire house - to appear to float.
Status: School Project
Location: Venice, Los Angeles CA