FLOATING HOUSE

Del Mar, California

8,500 sq.ft. (790 m²)

Design phase

The house is perched high in the hills above the famous beach town of Del Mar and has spectacular sweeping views up and down the coast. The significance of water as a life-giving element and as a resource to be cherished is central to the design. A poetic story was created around a hidden spring that surfaces as a waterfall in the hillside behind the house and works its way down and under the building, which appears to float across it. The water flows into a long reflecting pool, following the main entryway, and into an infinity-edge lap pool, stretching across almost the full length of the site. The pool allows barrier free and unimpeded views of the spectacular scenery beyond. Viewed from the courtyard and house, the pool reflects the sea beyond -- sky meets water on the horizon and in the reflection. Part of the pool forms a dramatic cantilevered "water balcony", with a glass bottom and sides. This "frozen" water sculpture and waterfall, cantilevers over the main entrance stairs, which are cut into the hillside and lead from the front motor court.

A central requirement for the design was for free flowing indoor-outdoor spaces while maintaining privacy. The wings of the tripartite "C" shape plan screen the main outdoor area. These cantilevered wings also create a strong and dramatic sculptural composition, which appears to float above the bluff. Approaching the house along the road provides a series of changing views of the forms projecting from the steep slope and overhanging the winding entry driveway. The three forms reflect the main areas of the house: the entertaining rooms, the family areas with bedrooms above, and the grand master suite wing.

The integration of nature into the house was very important. Glass walls in the main spaces can be completely slid open to create a strong indoor/outdoor connection. The layout of the house into 3 main elements, with open bridges connecting them, allows the landscape of the hill to run down and through the house in "fingers", which continue into the garden court, thus connecting nature on all sides. The floating form of the central pavilion, hovering over a glass base, also makes the rich vegetation of the hill appear to run down and under the house itself.

There are large areas of "living roof" that will complement a number of environmentally-friendly construction techniques that create a very energy efficient structure. These green roofs also create discovery gardens to be explored. A small gazebo is set on the hill that overlooks the roof gardens and the sea and horizon beyond. This gazebo could be used for meditation or as a place to escape and relax among the tree tops.

Vehicular access is via an underground tunnel leading to a parking area with direct access to the elevator and stairs, which are directly below the kitchen for ease of unloading. A rotating car turntable is used to simplify parking and allow more spaces. This underground area also contains the gym, home theater and wine cellar. The exterior door to the tunnel is designed to feel like the entrance to a cave in the side of a hill, similar to some wineries. Driving up to the house and parking inside will be a dramatic journey.

Exterior materials were selected to enhance the main concept of the house and express the three forms. The central family area is a light form of glass with cantilevered roofs and movable wood screens for shade. The main entertainment wing is expressed with a powerful concrete sculptural form. The master suite wing is clad in natural weathering corten steel. These materials used together create a varied and textured pallet that is at the same time very architectural but also warm and inviting.

FLOATING HOUSE
Del Mar, California