House in Venice
UCLA | AUD | Instr. Ben Refuerzo

To the architect all materials are of equal value, but are not uniformly suitable to all of his tasks. Stability and producibility require materials that do not coincide with the actual purpose of the building. The architect's general task is to provide a warm, homely space. Carpets are warm and homely. He decides for this reason to spread out one carpet on the floor and to hang up four to form the four walls. But you cannot build a house out of carpets. Both the carpet on the floor and the tapestry require a structural frame to hold them in the correct place. To invent this frame is the architect's second task.
-Adolf Loos

The house is sited on Eastern Canal in Venice, California. Uncharacteristically dense for Los Angeles, the neighborhood is notable for a high degree of visual interaction between residents and passing pedestrians. One does not move here for privacy. Visual intercommunication both within the house and between the house and the canal are both priorities.

The exceptional uniformity of urban space in Los Angeles has produced a condition in which a plural experience of the private home replaces the missing experience of the plural city. In this way, each house is like an island; the Los Angeles house is analogous to the English country house, wherein each room contains a specific and differentiated character while the city is inaccessible. This strategy is modified to suit the climate by its application to an open floor plan. Variations in level, rather than walls, are used to separate spaces, and produce faults through which the visual experience of the open floor plan is multiplied vertically. This strategy is extended to the outdoor spaces, including the roof, on which a swimming pool mediates the light coming into the dining room, and allows views of swimmers both to those in the house and on the canal. On the ground floor, the interior form and exterior cladding of an extant 1923 bungalow is inset within the new house, and used as a mother-in-law cottage. A indoor back deck and padded artificial lawn are built around it, creating a multigenerational space between the children’s rooms above the garage and their grandparents’ cottage across the void.