La Crescenta, California
Located 15 miles north of Los Angeles at the edge of Angeles National Forest, the Pittman Dowell Residence is sited on 6 acres of land originally planned as a hillside subdivision designed by Richard Neutra. Although three level pads were cleared only one house, the 1952 Serulnic Residence, was built on the site. Over the years the current owners have developed an extensive desert garden and outdoor pavilion on one of the unbuilt pads. The new Pittman Dowell Residences sits on the last clearing, circumscribed by the sole winding road which leads to the Serulnic Residence on the bluff above.
FROM A CONTEMPORARY TO A MODERNIST LANDMARK
Five decades after the original house was constructed in this once remote area, the city has grown around it with an accompanying change in both the visual and the physical context. Similarly, the evolving contemporary needs of the artists required a new relationship between building and landscape that is more urban and contained. Inspired by geometric arrangements of interlocking polygons, the new residence takes the form of a heptagonal figure whose purity is confounded by a series of intersecting diagonal slices though the space.
A PERSPECTIVAL COLLAPSING OF SPACE
Bounded by an introverted exterior, living spaces unfold in an array of shifting perspectival frames from within and throughout the house. These perspectival manipulations begin at the level of the room, collapsing and distending space through a series of non-parallel walls that never fully enclose the space of a room. Instead of using doors, a level of privacy is maintained by layering space and limiting view access. An irregularly shaped void caught within these intersections creates an outdoor room at the center whose edges blur into the adjoining living spaces. In such ways, movement and visual relationships expand and contract to respond to the centrifugal nature of the site and context.