Situated on one of the last undeveloped oceanfront lots along the iconic Pacific Coast Highway in Malibu, House Noir maximizes the site potential while creatively conforming to local building envelope restrictions. Situated on an atypically narrow 25 1/2 foot wide lot along of the Pacific Coast Highway, the project utilizes a functional circulation core to maximize livable space and views towards the ocean. Strategically placed openings on all facades expand the prominent views, providing natural light to all interior spaces. Standing seam painted aluminum siding folds up from the street façade and over the roof line to the roof deck, creating a seamless transition between wall and roof.
The goal of the project is to design for longevity, and to address how, through an adept approach to materiality and form, the house can be sustainable through multiple decades. One of the challenges of building next to the ocean is coastal erosion and rising sea levels, which demand complex design solutions. By raising the house 20 feet above the shoreline, building a seawall, and a deep caisson foundation, the site was secured. It is capable of absorbing the energy of the sea in the event of a natural disaster. The corrosive sea air, which can deteriorate metals and slowly peel away paint, was addressed by wrapping the building in aluminum, a non-corrosive metal, which is coated in a resilient rustproof paint.
Indoor-outdoor living areas are the focal point of the project, and helped to define the sustainability strategies during design. Floor to ceiling sliding doors along the ocean at both residential levels allow natural ventilation, while overhangs above protect direct sunlight from entering the indoor living spaces. Additional operable windows at all facades, in combination with a large open stairwell connecting all levels, permits cross ventilation throughout the house. These passive ventilation strategies take full advantage of the location’s ideal climate.
Long-life cycle and recycled materials were employed through the building, including metal panels at the façade. The rooftop deck reduces the building’s heat island effect and provides an additional barrier to direct sun exposure. Water saving strategies include a tankless water heater and dual-flush toilets.
The site is slightly trapezoidal in shape, providing a rare opportunity for views down the coast from the interior of the house. Angled balconies at the first and second levels are accessed by floor to ceiling sliding doors, amplifying the indoor-outdoor living experience. The master bedroom suite opens to the wide ocean views, while the double height guest bedroom suite frames hillside views above the street, maintaining privacy.
A central open staircase with perforated metal treads and risers allow natural light to filter down from roof deck level through the core of the house, unifying each level with glass or stainless steel cable mesh railings to maintain openness. An open floor plan at the first level is accented by the floating stair.
Lorcan O'Herlihy, FAIA, is the founder and principal of Lorcan O' Herlihy Architects [LOHA]. Since LOHA's 1994 inception, it has engaged the complexities of the urban landscape, embracing the role of architecture as a catalyst of change. Lorcan’s practive is an exploration of the interaction between public and private spaces and an emphasis on social and civic connectivity.
Lorcan received an MA in Histories and Theories from the Architectural Association in London, with a dissertation on social connectivity and generative urban strategies. He has taught and lectured extensively, and is currently an Adjunct Professor at the USC.
Lorcan O’Herlihy Architects has built over 75 projects across three continents. Work ranges in typology from institutional buildings to bus shelters, and from large-scale developments to single-family homes. LOHA has been published in over 20 countries and recognized with over 100 awards, including the 2010 AIA Los Angeles Firm of the Year.