Santa Monica, California
Architect: John Friedman Alice Kimm Architects
Structural Engineer: William Koh, William Koh and Associates, Inc.
Photography: Benny Chan, Fotoworks
Neighborliness: The King Residence rejects the standard public front yard/private backyard typology, opting instead for a structure whose living spaces and bedrooms open onto a relatively large garden and patio that faces the public streets and surrounding houses. While this arrangement puts much of the family’s communal and individual life on display, this is a positive feature for the Kings. The house’s blurring of public/private reinforces the sense of community that they embrace and encourage.
Siting and Massing: By setting the house towards the rear of the site, the house does not crowd the intersection. Read in a more volumetric way, the house is a solid mass in which one corner has been carved away, revealing the house’s inner life. But the structure can also be interpreted as series of planes, where angled walls that respond to the site’s wedged shape also contribute a degree of privacy for the house’s bedrooms. With a similar intent, the roof of the dining and “hangout” wing, angled to follow the gentle slope of the site, creates a sense of shelter for its inhabitants.
Materiality: Primarily composed of renewable materials such as plaster and cement board, the general permeability of the house is reinforced by its green and gray cement board painting pattern, designed to echo the dappled light one sees when looking through a tree towards a sun-filled sky. The wood screens, made of vertically-oriented Ipe, further help to dematerialize the structure’s opaque walls.
Light, Space, and Sustainability: Echoing the openness of the house to the neighborhood, the interior of the house is a series of free-flowing, continuous spaces that fosters a supportive, interactive family lifestyle. Generous use of skylights creates constantly changing light conditions that activate the interior. Extensive vertical glazing reduces the need for artificial lighting and enables ocean breezes to naturally ventilate the entire house, which does not include an air-conditioning system.