M.H. Lair is a new, contemporary single-family residence on a steep uphill lot in Montecito Heights, Los Angeles.
The physical restrictions of the site, the hillside building code and the surrounding views were the main inspiration for the folded geometry of the three-story house as it zig-zags from the street below to the top of the site. Like a nature trail, the circulation path winds in an out of the landscape, hugging various facets of the building and branching into the house. The sound of pebbles in the first courtyard on top of the garage evokes walking through caves, then the path leads through the guest unit and spills back out into the landscape at the courtyard level.
The living and dining spaces are organized around an existing Coral tree, and a black, cinder block ribbon wall forms the backbone of the house: it acts as a sound barrier, orients the view towards the outside and strings together a procession of public and private spaces.
The project employs reconfigurable borders and material continuity between outside and inside to expand the living space beyond the exterior walls. The main level courtyard and covered outdoor patio becomes an extension of the split-level dining area and sunken living room by opening two sets of folding doors. Here modular wooden boxes with linoleum tops can be used as steps or seating and create a fluid topology between the two areas. The living room can be further expanded by folding the railing over the stairs to the lower level, creating a rentable unit below. On the second floor, an outdoor bathtub becomes a calm overlook over the neighboring hills from the primary suite and can be screened off if needed with a curtain that spans over the length of the balcony. The Accoya wood floor spreads into the indoor sleeping area, up the walls of the bathroom and into the shower.
Accented plains of paint at stairs and paths, reminiscent of the De Stijl movement emphasize and change the appearance of this transformational space.
Photography: Content Production
Structural Engineering: Nous Engineering