The Oak Pass Road project in Los Angeles suffered severe damage during the 1994 earthquake. The original wooden structure was sheathed in stucco and stone, a flexible system clothed in a rigid system, both structure and sheathing failed during the Northridge earthquake.
In the extensive redesign that followed, the existing structure was reinforced with flexible steel members and the original massing was treated as several separate structures, connected by a cantilevered glass skylight system. Exterior surfaces were treated as flexible systems that could move, broken down into sections sheathed in redwood, stucco, metal panels and a steel frame glass system. An enclosed steel staircase (pictured), and a sky-lit hallway (pictured) cantilevered from one building over to two others, serve to connect the buildings and bring the landscape within the volume of the house. The flexible steel structural system allowed for larger areas of operable glass and passive solar movable stainless steel screens to shield western exposures in the late afternoon. The entire roof of the house is envisioned as a ‘floating’ element of the structure, allowing air to pass through.
The tectonics of particular materials, as employed in relation to local weather and soil conditions fully informed the formal language of the project. It also reflects the fragmented experience of Los Angeles, a consequence of both environmental practices and seismic conditions. Thus the project is impossible either to present it in photographs, or perceive it as a unified whole.
The color palette used is that of a desert landscape – in the exterior, the earth colors acquire more saturation and vividness, exposed to constant and intense sunlight. In the shaded interior, the same colors are much softer and more changeable.
Several large objects are inserted into the interior of the house as separate enclosed spaces. This image features the Shower Pod for two in the main wing of the house. Fabricated out of blue beveled glass, it contrasts the surrounding space and is abstractly modeled to convey the experience of an oasis within the desert landscape of the house.
Four distinct Gardens, oriented in
four directions, surround the house:
The Eastern Garden houses ferns, large leaf plants, and a coypond.
The Western Garden by the poolside is a desert landscape with boulders and cacti.
The Northern Garden features a wood and steel bridge over the receding landscape. The main entrance to the house is located here.
The Southern Garden, a playground paved with local stone, is planted with large trees that shade the house.