Laurel Way by Whipple Russel Architects, in Beverly Hills, California (U.S.A.) Collective imagination goes into overdrive when looking at such an iconic and well-known city as Beverly Hills. Most people know about its ostentatious properties and palm-fringed avenues, but today we will stay far from such commonplaces to introduce you to a project of a different standard. From the outside, Laurel Way Residence is a contemporary three-story house which greets Los Angeles from the top of an exuberant green terraced hill. Each internal environment of Laurel Way had to be a “jewel box; an individually conceived, precisely functional, and dramatic sensory experience” in words of the design team. This description is tempting, but not enough. Why does this project stand out, even in its luxury context? Well, because of the breathtaking way it develops an inside-outside connection.
Laurel Way by Whipple Russel Architects
Whipple Russel Architects created an open landscaping concept that erases the conventional architectonic limits instead of utilizing vertical barriers for privacy, which is much more usual in the area. Matching the interior design and adding consistency to the whole project, we find balanced and surprising outdoor spaces. Let´s see why Laurel Way is truly special. WATCH: Laurel Way, Beverly Hills, CA
The Rules of the Game
Laurel Way is of considerable size and offers a variety of different environments, but at the same time it is still easy to perceive it as a unified concept. From the general to the detail, everything follows a similar approach. The house avoids giving a massive first impression and expresses a strong desire of obtaining openness and a connection with the outdoors, of suggesting lightness, and of offering a variety of experiences as well. We can appreciate it through its fragmented volumes, its glass facades, and through the irregular perimeter creating a number of independent gardens within the site.The landscaping works in parallel with the aims of the house. But how did the team do it? By exploiting the features and possible combinations of an intentionally short palette of materials and colors, this project was able to create depth, contrast, and a range of textures with just a few elements. In turn, it provides balance and simplicity to the space.
A Landscape of Opposites
This project shows a great understanding of how relationships between opposing pairs of aspects work; outside-inside, natural-artificial, lightness-mass and curved shapes-orthogonal geometry. The secret is to put a bit of one into the other, like natural elements being part of the artificial indoor environment, for example, until they become integrated. See More Articles on LAN:
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Exploring the Place
As you can appreciate through the images, the designers worked using the same short palette of neutral and sober colors for the entire project. Different materials, including the furniture, have been assimilated into the reduced color spectrum of green, blue, dark chocolate and the dominant creamy colors to create careful and studied sequences of contrasts and a sense of lightness. There are white terraces or green patches around the house, all limited by a continuous staggered water channel in a horseshoe shape. Those elements, closely dependent of the indoor spaces keep their orthogonal geometry in contrast with those more linked to nature, which adopt a more organic pattern.
Practical Strategies to Gain Openness
One of the strategies intentionally avoided in Laurel Way was a reliance upon vertical barriers because those would reduce openness and break the connection between environments. Then, how did the designers differentiate areas and uses? Basically, they worked on changes in pavement material, floor level, or the dimensions of elements. For example, in front of the main living-room, a small water channel becomes a spectacular pool and jacuzzi for relaxing in, merely by changing its width.Furthermore, the terrace which surrounds those pools uses just a change in the floor level to create a distinct area around a fire feature. Another question would be how to deal with security and protection measures, but the design team was really clever: they took advantage of the water channel to create a strong barrier and put glass parapets before the physical border to get undisturbed views and spatial continuity.
How Laurel Way Connects Two Environments
The singular location of Laurel Way, including the green hill, plays a role in the urban landscape. The design team softly transforms the steep slope by creating planted terraces which respect its organic perimeter. Thanks to the visual reinforcement of the retaining walls in white, the solution absolutely matches with the house: when we see the horizontal white slabs floating on the glass facade, does the house not seem to blend into the terraced hill like its last platform?Another aspect of this project is the scale of the terraces, which are fitting to the domestic size of their correspondent rooms. Outdoor spaces expand indoor functions right through glass walls by using the same white pavement on both sides. Green pots also connect the kitchen or the living-room with the terraces bringing inside those points of lively natural colors and textures. This project shows us that behind a first class design there rests a clear understanding of built and natural dynamics and of the impact of our professional decisions. Leave a Comment
Full Project Credits For Laurel Way by Whipple Russell Architects
Project: Laurel Way Type of project: Residential Landscape Architect: Whipple Russell Architects Architect: Whipple Russell Architects Interior designer: Michael Palumbo Lighting design: Crestron Client: Richard Papalian Location: 1201 Laurel Way, Beverly Hills, California (U.S.A.) Year of completion: 2013 Size: 11,200 sq. ft Sold: $ 31,000,000 USD Architect: Marc Whipple AIA Project Manager: Andrew Takabayashi Photographers: William MacCollum, Art Gray Photography Website: www.whipplerussell.com Facebook: www.facebook.com/whipplerussell Pinterest: www.pinterest.com/whipplerussell Youtube: www.youtube.com/user/wrarchitects Twitter: www.twitter.com/whipplerussell LinkedIN: www.linkedin.com/company/whipple-russell-architects Google +: www.plus.google.com/+WhipplerussellLA Recommended Reading:
- Urban Design by Alex Krieger
- The Urban Design Handbook: Techniques and Working Methods (Second Edition) by Urban Design Associates
Article by Elisa García Nieto. Return to HomepagePublished in