Our challenge at DU Architects was to create and integrate an art gallery + photography studio and a comfortable private residence with a pool with its natural surroundings. The structures were to be sited on a small lot on a densely developed urban street in bohemian Venice.

We wanted to find and use materials-concrete, glass, and wood-to bring us close to Nature, and use them to create a space of harmony, beauty, sensuality and practicality.

We chose to use materials in their raw form:
Concrete was selected for the facade of the gallery to create an outer frame for the art work within. Its exaggerated silhouette protects it from the glare of the sun so the art can be seen. We gave the concrete textures like those in nature, because natural textures create a sense of living things of warmth, touchability, and human scale. The form into which the concrete was poured was framed with horizontal wood slats, allowing the texture of the wood to be ingrained into the concrete. The movement of sunlight during the day and the glow of the streetlights at night now travel over the planes of textured concrete and create ever changing shadows.

Glass in seamless planes was chosen for its openness. Because it is transparent, glass welcomes and invites the passerby to stroll right into the gallery.

Wood was selected to provide warmth at the residential portion of the building.

A beautiful sliding frame of gray steel bars and translucent onyx colored infill separates the private portion of the ground floor from the gallery by rolling into and out of its pocket. It creates the desired use of space within moments.

As one travels through the space, the stairs cantilever from a staggered concrete patterned wall. This pattern creates additional movement. The moving eye in the moving body going up the stairs, takes in the juxtaposed order of this highly tactile wall. Ever changing with the daylight, and creates additional movement within the space.

The stairs lead to the second floor where there are bedrooms and private spaces. Here we bring a sense of cocooning or inwardness so that one feels embraced, secure, and private, compared to the open and public space of the ground floor and the outside.

The finishes on the interior of the second floor are polished and dark in order to mirror shadows and movements created by light and bodies moving through space. The natural eastern light in an atrium pours through an orange laminated rice paper glass wall, bringing warmth into the master bedroom. The sun reflects the water pattern from the swimming pool through a window in the bedroom and connects us visually to the vast and endless blue sky.

The office is politely tucked away, and the hallway leading to it is wide, so that the space can be used for displaying art and creating a mini waiting room. There are two additional bathrooms and bedrooms at the rear.

The thirty six foot tall interior patterned concrete wall creates a backdrop for the wooden cantilevered stairs that stack one above another and lead to the third floor. Here the play of materials continues with the outside becoming part of the inside and vice versa.

The L-shaped floor-to-ceiling glass with exaggerated overhang of the roof hugs, yet elongates the proportion of the terrace. It connects the viewer to a picturesque view of Venice at the rear. Planes of glass slide to the atrium portion of the terrace, creating additional privacy from the street and opening the dining room to the pool terrace.

The terrace, furnished with comfortable built-in outdoor furniture, is a place where occupants can enjoy the lovely Southern California climate from the third floor overlooking the hustle and bustle of Abbott Kinney Boulevard.

Published in the Los Angeles Times Magazine March 2, 2008 - SPACE Magazine , Elle Decoration UK.