Kovac Architects - HillClimber House

Kovac Architects

HillClimber House

The HillClimber house in Pacific Palisades - California, confidently combines stone and wood across 3 levels. As the owners describe - “We’re very pleased with our house. Not only does it convey perfectly the aesthetic that we wanted, but it’s also a very functional house. It fits our family perfectly.”

When LA based Kovac architects set out to design a replacement to the existing traditional ranch home, the brief encompassed the needs of the entire family: the young kids wanting larger outdoor play areas and the adults wanting a safe pool area and a secluded getaway for themselves.

Combined with local stone, sustainably harvested red balau wood cladding blends the house into the surrounding trees of the shady canyon. Kovac used a combination of materials and forms to create a simple hierarchy of spaces. Larger, common rooms are distinguished by high angled ceiling planes that open to views and light, while the private spaces feature flat ceilings and dark warm grey concrete floors. Slats are used to filter light into interim rooms and provide privacy. The slats continue as partitions, lightly breaking both internal and external areas.

The lower level incorporates a 3 car garage, storage, main entrance and mechanical.

The children’s bedrooms and primary living spaces are located on the main level, wrapping around an inner courtyard that leads up to the pool area. From the infinity edge pool, water spills over the edge of the uppermost drystack stone wall, providing the backdrop for the garden below. The pool is situated on the highest plane of the site in order to maximise sun exposure in the typically shady canyon. On the lower plane of the garden, a 1,000sf grassy lawn, allowing the family’s two children more than enough room to safely play. The lawn, backed by the cascading water, is hidden from the road. In front are the living and formal dining rooms, along with an eat-in kitchen that has both a breakfast nook and counter bar.

On the uppermost level of the site, a master suite offers the homeowners sanctuary, featuring a cosy sitting area, home office, and a luxurious bathroom with floating dual vanity and innovative rotating mirrors. The master suite opens directly onto a small private garden on the uppermost level of the site, connecting it to the pool and spa area. One of my favourite features is the wooden floor of the large shower unit, with a head height window out across the valley.

The house is light and airy, taking advantage of the hillside to provide various degrees of intimacy and security. The house also allows for a great amount of privacy for each family member. Aside from the intimate bedrooms with en suites, the children and adults have interim semi private spaces. The games room and master sitting room and office, provide less public spaces, which leave the bedrooms sanctum.

Project Type: Private Residence
Principal Designer/s: Michael Kovac (Principal-in-Charge)
Design Team: Thurman Grant (Project Manager), Fang Fang Ekawati, Que Lam, Jamilah Haygood, Deborah Torres (interiors)
Date of commencement of project: July 2002(design); July 2003 (construction)
Date of completion of project: July 2003 (design); September 2005 (construction)
Location of site: Pacific Palisades, CA
Site Area: 17,889sf
Built-up Area: 4783 sf 849 sf garage and work area

via: Kovac Architects