Vertical Courtyard House

Montalba Architects


Dissolving the boundaries between spaces, both interior and exterior, is the primary design intent of the 4,400 sf residence in Santa Monica, California. At the street front, privacy is interpreted through the building envelope and material organization.

From here these elements begin to shift, or disappear altogether, allowing for a hierarchy of security, exposure and circulation that creates a dynamic, varied experience within the plan.

Conceptually, the house is split into two distinct volumes with a landscaped strip bisecting the space. The floating ‘box’ second floor hovers in place above the poured concrete footing and ground-level living quarters. Comprised of three stories, this new residential construction engages the landscape by blending interior and exterior spaces through mindful massing. Bookending the first floor is the basement complete with a guest suite, family room and walk-out patio, and the third floor featuring a library, two additional bedrooms, bathrooms and the master suite.

Integrated planters and a private deck extend the master bedroom, lending a view of the linear pool and reconnecting to the greenspace below. A bridge continues the core circulation from the library across to the secondary mass of the house, providing close proximity for family members while maintaining privacy. The three-story courtyard/atrium feeds light through each of the floors, including the basement, while providing sightlines to the backyard, as well as above and below. A folding garden feature sees the backyard greenery work its way subtly into the footprint of the living space.

Completed: October 10, 2019

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