The historic Mulholland Drive winds it way through the peaks of the Santa Monica Mountains, offering sweeping views of the Los Angeles basin and San Fernando Valley. This scenic route, which also plays host to some of Hollywood’s elite, provides a quiet retreat from the bustling urban center below.
From the street, 7691 Mulholland Drive has an unassuming presence. A twisting driveway is the only indication of the 5,800-square-foot structure below. Situated on steep incline, the design meets the challenges of the terrain and physical constraints of its L-shaped lot, presenting an optimal solution to a unique set of conditions. Its sunken nature not only guards against the harsh western sun, but also serves to maximize energy efficiency. As a result, the house seems to gently cascade down the hillside, allowing each level to have an unobstructed panoramic view of the landscape.
The slope of the site informs the organization of the interior, with a privacy gradient that flows downward through the various levels and terminates at the guesthouse. The upper levels hold the main living spaces and encourage interaction by maintaining a visual connection to each other, with the bedrooms and more intimate family spaces tucked below. Access to the outdoors is maximized by utilizing the rooftops as decks.
The home can be accessed in two ways. An attached two-car garage provides a private entry through the kitchen, while guests approaching the residence from the street are invited in by the majestic staircase leading up to the front door. The thirty-six foot descent is minimized by the expansive unenclosed steps, with the western edge serving as a platform for seating or display.
The kitchen, dining area, and lounge are located to the right of the entrance where a staircase lures you down to the aptly named grand room just one half-level below. This vantage point offers a truly incredible view of Los Angeles, drawing you out to the upper deck complete with an infinity pool.
Another set of stairs leads from the grand room to the private quarters below. Here, the building peels away to form a small courtyard, allowing sunlight to seep in and illuminate the hallway. A path of light guides you from a home theater on one end to a modest family room and two bedrooms, connected by an exterior deck. The master suite is separated by another half-level descent and extends the entire length of the floor plate. It includes a spacious bathroom and wine room, creating an isolated ambiance that encourages a state of repose. On the lowest level rests the guesthouse. Secluded from the main house, the guesthouse features a private entrance, bathroom, and kitchenette.
The design aesthetic represents a departure from the traditional architectural styles in Los Angeles. While the project seeks to reflect the complexities of a fast-paced environment, the tone of house is one of simple living.
Written by Sabrina Blackman, Intern, VOID Inc.
Location: Los Angeles, CA, US
My Role: Architect
Additional Credits: Architectural Team: Axel Schmitzberger, Brittany DePaul, Miguel Gonzales, Pouya Goudarzi, Spencer Brennan
Structural Engineer: Amir Pibadian, Inc.
Civil Engineer: BDS Associates, Inc.
Soil & Geology Engineer: Parmelee Geology, Inc.
General Contractor: United Construction, Inc.