Name:Twin Houses

Location:Pacific Palisades, California

Team:Jodi Batay-Csorba. Lead Designer/Architect/Manager, Predock Frane Architects

Project Area:9,000 sqft

Project Year:2009

Client:Habitat Group Development

Project Status:Construction Completion, 2009


This project is located in the Pacific Palisades, a hilly region between the Pacific Ocean and the Santa Monica Mountains within an existing 1950’s housing development. The project consists of two twin houses sited adjacent to each other on a steep slope above a seasonal watershed. In this project we were interested in exploring the intersection of two classic California building typologies; the courtyard house and the hillside house. This intersection was then further complicated by the overlay of two unsynchronized jurisdictional height envelope parameters that very explicitly controlled the volumetric limits of the structures. The building program was extensive relative to total city allowances, so we started by intersecting the two envelopes, and then pierced this volume with two courtyards, altering the hillside typology into a hillside/courtyard hybrid.

This typological hybrid ‘corrected’ certain shortcomings in the hillside prototype. The central courtyard creates a large protected outdoor living space secluded from direct engagement with adjacent properties. The main courtyard and adjacent courtyard/recesses pierce the entire volume of the house creating light shafts to rooms typically ‘buried’ in the hillside and further expanding direct access to grounded exterior spaces. Materially the exterior of the houses are clad in 12” wide cedar plank, the exterior surface is rough cut, transiting to smooth finish on its interior surfaces. The windows and the interiors of the courtyards are smooth white light reflective surfaces to further transmit light deep into the house.

Glass which faces the highest, hottest South sun is deeply recessed within double-walls, which create a thickness of three feet to provide shade from the summer sun. A layered rainscreen exterior wall system improves both thermal performance and moisture protection. Rainwater runoff passes through a state of the art, 3-layer filtration system before finding its way via gravity into the municipal water system.

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