As I spend a great deal of time in Venice,California, combing the streets to look at the architecture has become one of my favorite pastimes. The homes there, as in many other sections of Los Angeles, are
very close together…not much breathing room on the sides. Most of the houses, of course, are not architectural beauties, just nice ordinary styles with a little bit of their own design period flair to make them distinct from the house next door. However, today living in Venice is considered primo, so many people do invest in creating rather handsome modern dwellings…on the typical 1/8th of an acre…and I am always fascinated by how wonderful these houses look, in spite of the close proximity to their neighbors.
On my last visit to the ‘City of Angels’, I made an effort to pass by one particular house which I had read about it in Interior Design Magazine (read more here) a while back because I thought that it had a particularly interesting design concept. The architect responsible for the design was Daniel Monti of Modal Design. The 2,700 square foot house…yes, on 1/8 of an acre…was bound to it’s typical, long rectangular shape due to the lot size, but he had taken this particular dwelling to new heights with some clever architectural detailing I had never seen before.
Monti’s motivation was to re-invent that ‘architectural wheel’ without giving up the basic flow of a small contemporary house. The house is still composed of the classic open living and dining layout and lots of glass to enhance the narrowness of the space and rooms of long walls filled with built-ins & mid century modern furnishings, all of this being extremely well done and classic, but rather predictable in a house of this nature.
However, what makes the house exceptional looking is the custom designed Cor-Ten steel scrim that playfully surrounds the upper level of the house. Accented with random circular perforations and bending in and out as it winds around the top level of the house, this architectural touch gets three stars from me. I think it is really a super cool element. I adore the look it gives to the whole house..definitely taking it on that long trip from the ordinary to the sublime.
The basis behind the Cor-Ten wrap is to provide not only design but privacy from the ever close at hand neighbors. Monti cleverly took all of the 3000 some steel cutouts from the external scrim and created a customized stair railing out of panels of these irregular circles. This repetition of the circular pattern idea found in the Cor-Ten wrap that surrounds the house generates a positve-negative/ yin & yang design connection that is quite successful.
There are also many other wonderful features of the house which work so well in Venice: heated cement floors for comfort in those cooler winter months; an exquisite 45 foot long pool with a smashing glass mosaic wall along side of it containing water spouts which fill the pool; a highly relevant-to-the design, over-sized ancient pine tree that has been integrated into the architecture, caressing the windows of the master bedroom upstairs.
Monti’s design screams loudly about how one great design element can have great impact on the look of an ordinary structure and make it soar to new heights. AND once again, that “small” can be even more beautiful than “big.”
FYI: Monti also designed the house with consideration for all things green and sustainable and incorporated innumerable energy saving aspects into the house. Plus, believe it or not, this house was designed for his parents…how lucky are they!
Ciao, ciao ’til next time!