The single-family residence is perched on a hillside overlooking Pasadena and its adjacent mountains. This new 4,200-square-foot house is made up of several distinct living volumes. In response to the client’s desire to retain a significant portion of the existing flat pad between adjacent slopes, the building volumes were stacked to create a compact rectangular mass and then pushed against the hillside. The residence is an extension of the primary residence and includes guest living spaces, a home office, gym, and subterranean screening room, as well as abundant outdoor spaces, all taking in views of the surrounding hills and valley.
Programmatic elements peel away from the primary group of building blocks and shift to follow the rough slope of the hillside terrain. The intended entry sequence flows with the landscape, guiding visitors along a reaching sidewalk that extends under the mass of the building. The compression of the resulting space offers a unique arrival experience leading to the natural creek beyond and the front door, which is nestled on the second floor.
Following the natural grade in an arching path, the front stairs lead to a bridged entry portal, all the while showcasing panoramic views of the house. As the front door opens, the dark, angular façade of paneled concrete gives way to a light-filled interior of soft wood and bright white finishes. Upon entering, visitors find themselves within an indoor/outdoor living space; framed views of the exterior landscape guide in natural light and immerse visitors their surrounding environment. A central spine of stairs connects the programmatic levels, descending to a private screening room or ascending to the third-floor living spaces. This vertical core anchors a series of open terraces that mirror the interior living quarters, encompassing almost as much outdoor space as the enclosed third-floor footprint.
Floor-to-ceiling glazing disappears into the blackened steel shell to maximize indoor-outdoor rooms, and integrated screens mitigate the desert sun across the carved out volumes. Raw plywood folds across horizontal and vertical planes within the steel shell, underscoring the industrial aesthetic, but also creating a neutral backdrop against which the family’s art and photography collection can shine. Native plantings at the roof terraces, and integrated throughout the interior, add color and softness to the palette and further solidify the connection between the building and the site.
The thickened skin of the facade contains a large thermal package that acts as a heat dissipater by capturing and redirecting warm air. The orientation of the building volumes creates a central breezeway that pulls natural air through the interior of the home. Operable glazing enhances circulation while integrated screens protect against direct exposure to the sun. The full-height glass walls are set back into the building envelope to reduce excessive heat gain but still allow for maximum natural light to permeate the interior spaces. The mass of the building is largely oriented underground, within the hillside for thermal passive cooling and heating.
Montalba Architects is an award-winning practice, producing select architecture and urban design related projects by embracing a humanistic approach that considers not only a client’s needs and site considerations, but also the cultural and economic environment. With this process, solutions are realized that are contextual, yet conceptual and visionary in their intent, effect, and appeal.
A significant work of architecture expresses its purpose via physical solutions. As with any form of design, in architecture artful solutions are the goals to be sought. At Montalba Architects, these solutions are frequently inspired by our key values, which find physical expression in ways directly related to the particular client, program, and design problem.