The "tree section" of Manhattan Beach has a spectacular vantage point from the top of its hill and is a culturally, historically, and architecturally diverse area. The community in transition has a blend of properties built to their maximum allowable square footage and smaller homes that have weathered the test of time through the care and devotion of their owners. The challenge was to respond to the diversity while simultaneously creating a timeless architecture responsive to the needs of a young family of five.
Inspiration came from two of California's more important architectural traditions - European Modernism adapted to suit Southern California's cultural climate and Mediterranean influences dating back at least to the beginnings of the rancho lands underlying this area's beach communities. The home speaks with a Southern California accent with traces of both Rudolf Schindler's own tilt-up concrete residence/studio in West Hollywood and Wallace Neff's local interpretations of Mediterranean revival villas. These differences are visible from the largest compositional gestures to the smallest details - from exposed, board-formed concrete walls and glass windows that disappear into nearly seamless corners, to the thick white plaster walls and thatching on the exterior palapa - a freestanding open-air pavilion in the backyard.
Nature is incorporated not only in the honest expression of the materials, but also in the ways the ways the home accommodates the elements: wind, sun, and topography. Sensitivity to the future of life on the planet and to nature were driving forces in the design. Sustainable materials, for the most part, available locally are used throughout the home. The combination of concrete shear walls, steel door systems, and vertical grain Douglas Fir siding can withstand the forces of the marine environment, high winds, three children, and a dog. Floor materials with radiant heating smooth the transition from inside to outside while entire window walls open up to allow ocean breezes to cool the home.
The image of a tree house seems natural given the neighborhood's lush setting of mature palm, eucalyptus, and pine trees, and its panoramic position on the hill. Like a treetop hideaway, exposed wood on the exterior of the floating boxes echoes the surrounding tree trunks. Above all, this is a family home with a variety of experiences to choose from, ranging from cozy "cocoon" in the form of the palapa, to large, cathedral-like double height spaces. Asian antiques, modern art, and family mementos are an integral part of the material palette for a home designed to embrace both the clutter and beauty of everyday life.