The best of both worlds

Jennifer Marmon
Thursday 09 Sep 2010

M House highlights views of scenic canyon landscape

Constructed in the midst of a complex city, M House looks to its environment for inspiration. As the site demonstrates, there is more to Los Angeles than movie stars and traffic jams: the dense network of city streets must navigate around a series of steep hills which surround various neighbourhoods. The view from these urban hillsides is particularly appealing. Occupants of hillside residences are at once nestled in a lush Southern California landscape and presented with a birds-eye view of the sprawling city.

PAR designed M House as a minimalist form with maximum access to its surroundings. The 60ft-long residence appears partially buried in the hillside and employs several design strategies to bring the outside in. Multiple terraces draw occupants out of traditional living spaces, while interior gardens bring native greenery inside. Large apertures create a sense of openness in the otherwise compact floor plan and a horizontal circulation axis along the south-facing facade complicates the transitional zone between interior and exterior.

M House’s bar-like form sits on a stone plinth and aligns with the natural topography. Environmental and economic concerns with regard to minimizing grading, excavation, and retention walls strongly informed the specific siting and building footprint. Sustainable site strategies such as solar orientation, solar power, natural cross ventilation, water reclamation, and indigenous landscaping also served as primary design considerations.

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