West LA Hideaway

Venice CA

Architecture, Construction, Landscape, Entitlements

Completed 2021

Photos: Reid Cigolle

This project began with an aging bungalow lost behind overgrown birds of paradise in Venice Beach.  We had helped our clients, a retired couple, select the property as the site for a new house, with the intention that they could live in the bungalow until time came to tear it down and build anew.  The uninsulated postwar structure was small and deteriorating, but the time spent in it informed an attitude toward living and building within the dense beachside neighborhood; relaxed seclusion, straightforward materiality and unpretentious domesticity.

Although 50% of the old footings were saved in order to retain favorable zoning laws and preserve the backyard, this is a new structure.  The design intent is to expand upon the postwar paradigms represented by the old bungalow without resorting to pastiche - to build a house that is bright, durable and easy.

Formally, the design repurposes typical postwar materials and forms but injects a modern emphasis on architectural space-making and abstracted details.  A smooth stucco front facade masks the set back second story and is sensitive to the scale of the street.  Within, the wood joists of low-slung rooflines are left exposed to contrast with white plastered walls; while the painted steel frames, uncovered slab and maple flooring maintain the uncomplicated lifestyle of typical California housing.  
Organizationally, the design is driven by two key programming decisions.  First, the typical postwar plan of a street-facing living room and a galley kitchen in back is flipped.  The kitchen is brought to the front to serve as the hub for daily activity in the house.  Second, it was requested that the primary bedroom remain on the ground level - creating an opportunity to combine it with the living room into an interchangeable garden-facing suite.