Los Angeles, California
lee + mundwiler architects
The two-story, 1,800-square-foot house, dubbed Coconut because of its dark exterior shell and white interior, is located in the densifying coastal neighborhood of Marina del Rey. The residence appears, in Mundwiler’s terms, like a child’s drawing of a house—in section, it’s a simple, 18-foot-wide rectangle topped by a gable and then extruded back 64 feet to the rear of the relatively narrow, 25-by-100-foot site. From the street, a large window for the living room and a narrow second-floor overhang for the side entrance appear as voids, laying waste to any preconceptions of the house as business-as-usual.
The wood-framed house’s inventiveness emerges in its plan, where the architects subtracted a two-story volume between the front living room and the rear kitchen and dining room to form the interior courtyard. This space doubles as an additional dining room, revealingly framed by large, folding glass doors on the first floor and by windows on the second floor.
This transparent gesture allows great natural cross ventilation and uninterrupted views through the house—between rooms and also out to a busy street—but appears rather secluded when looking into the house from the sidewalk. The architects achieved this effect, without sacrificing privacy, in part by enclosing the second-story opening of the courtyard with a scrim of operable louvers. The client can automatically control her views, as well as sunlight and breezes.