Vertical Courtyard House, a 5,450-square-foot single-family residence in Southern California’s Santa Monica Canyon, dissolves boundaries between interior and exterior, taking advantage of the region’s warm climate and laid-back lifestyle. Designed by Montalba Architects as the home for its founding principal, David Montalba, the house features expansive glazing and a stepped courtyard that stitches together the residence’s three levels.
Sandblasted concrete footings and walls in the part-basement and ground-floor open-plan living areas support a hovering stucco volume that contains bedrooms and an office. Louvered timber screens on the second floor allow treetop views and enable air to flow through operable Vitrocsa windows while maintaining shade, privacy, and security.
The project’s massing facilitates sustainable strategies, including “cross-ventilation over the footprint of the home and evaporative cooling from the strategically sited pool,” Montalba said. Such measures are aided by native vegetation, like a retained old-growth avocado tree and two newly planted California oaks, that provides shading, and rainwater collection systems to minimize water consumption. A radiant heating and cooling system also eliminates the need for a forced air system and reduces the risk of allergens and pollutants in the home.
The interiors feature a warm palette of Hullebusch stone, concrete, wood, and soft white walls. White oak in varying textures, including flat matte and a raked corrugated finish, echoes the timber fins and cladding on the home’s exterior. A timber stairway connects the living quarters to the private spaces on the first floor, and its open risers let light stream through to the levels below. The project’s materials, Montalba said, “are natural, durable, yet contrast in their relation to one another to balance the crispness of the architectural concrete with the softer, warmer edges of the wood and a California lifestyle.”
Architect: Montalba Architects
Location: Santa Monica, California
Structural engineer: The Office of Gordon L.Polon
MEP engineer: PBS Engineers
Lighting designer: Sean O’Connor Lighting
Landscape designer: Elysian Landscapes
Waterproofing consultant: Roofing & Waterproofing Forensics
Contractor: Sarlan Builders
Surveyor: M&M & Co.
Title 24 consultant: Newton Energy
Soils engineer: Grover-Hollingsworth and Associates
Civil engineer: Wynn Engineering
Kitchen appliances: Gaggenau
Cabinetry, millwork, and doors: Wider SA
Bathroom plumbing fixtures: VOLA
Kitchen faucets: MGS
Sink basins, garbage disposal, and kitchen accessories: Franke
Doors and windows: Vitrocsa
Concrete panels and planter cladding: Swisspearl
Roofing: Sika Sarnafil
Wood floors: Dinesen
Door hardware: FSB
Lighting controls and shades: Lutron
Lighting: No. 8
Entry intercom systems: Siedle
Modular storage and shelving: USM
Kitchen furniture: Bulthaup
Lighting fixtures: Santa & Cole