|Oak Pass House
Beverly Hills, CAUnited States
Sitting atop a ridge amongst Oak woodlands in Beverly Hills, California, this modern residence by Los Angeles based architectural studio Walker Workshop takes full advantage of its picturesque location to provide its occupants with panoramic canyon views along with an environment of minimal elegance, while maintaining a diminutive presence among the rolling landscape which surrounds it.
The pristine surroundings that include over 130 protected Coast Live Oak Trees was the main driving force behind the designers’ decision to submerge two thirds of the 740 square meters of floor space into the hillside in order to minimize the house’s visual mass. The subterraneous spaces contain four bedrooms, a study room and a gym, which emerge along the hillsides to offer generous views of the canyon and plenty of natural light, as well as a wine cellar and a home cinema that are located deeper into the hill. An angular courtyard on the same level brings daylight into the adjacent corridors as well as creating a more intimate environment for the house's private quarters. Above, the living and dining area, kitchen, and car park take the form of one-storey pavilions, each one slightly rotated to frame different vistas.
The use of structural concrete for most of the building's construction allows for larger cantilevers that give a sense of weightlessness, and column-free expanses which, combined with the floor-to-ceiling glazing, ensures uninterrupted views. Moreover, wherever possible, the glass facades were designed as a series of sliding or pivoting panels that once opened allow the interior spaces to flow onto the outdoor terraces in order to take advantage of the mild, Mediterranean climate of Southern California.
The interiors are designed with a minimalist aesthetic using a palette of natural materials such as limestone for the pavilion floors, walnut wood for the lower-storey floors and wall paneling, and marble for the kitchen and bathroom counters. Similarly minimalist, a series of grass-paved terraces that include an herb garden, constructed as a roof over parts of the lower level, and an infinity pool that reflects the abutting Oak trees, reconstruct the excavated hill and harmoniously assimilate the grounds into the surrounding landscape.
In forming such an intimate and respectful relationship with the site it sits on while using an architectural language of simplicity, transparency and openness, Oak Pass Main House follows in the steps of iconic modernist residences such as Frank Lloyd Wright’s Fallingwater House, Mies van der Rohe's Farnsworth House and Philip Johnson’s Glass House, which all endeavored to wed architecture to its natural context.