Shubin + Donaldson Architects - Urban Spa

Shubin + Donaldson Architects

Urban Spa

Urban Spa - Shubin + Donaldson Architects have remodelled this house to soak up its Malibu shore front location. Sliding doors and windows allow the residence to be open plan or sectioned off at will. The site elements of the highway and beach challenged, and dispatched with charming results.

The initial task was to renovate the original 1976 dwelling into a contemporary urban retreat, whilst adding some structural reinforcement. Bought in 2001 for it's location, the owners, together with the architects, went on to extensively remodel the house into an urban oasis. Concious efforts to negate the road behind and emphasise the beach in front are evident throughout.

The overall concept for this 2,900-square-foot beach-side modern house was to transform it into an urban spa-like retreat. The house is perched along Malibu’s Pacific Coast Highway, and features access to the beach at the back. Sheltering the house and providing a hard fa├žade is the garage to the rear. As an area of transition between the street and beach, an interior entry courtyard behind the garage, laid with rectangular cement pavers and bordered by smooth river rock and tufted grasses, introduces the primary design element of the home — a seamless union between interior and exterior spaces. Through crisp linear architecture, a split level plan, and visual access throughout the house brings in the beach.

From the entry courtyard, a line of sight straight through the living room takes in the sea views. Dragging your attention away, to the left is a bay window type dining room, accented by a white grid of window panes and shadowed from the noon sun. This window grid is echoed by the geometric pattern of the cabinets and shelves that lead into the minimal kitchen. True to the open plan, the kitchen seamlessly overlooks the main living space, allowing distractions whilst cooking.

The interior design palette of natural woods and limestone, white walls and fabrics, frosted and clear plate-glass creates a crisp and airy environment to appreciate the Pacific Ocean setting. A true Urban Spa,the elements were hand picked to portray the theme of air, light, and water.

Ground-floor living room and adjacent sitting room offer shadowed relief from the sunlit terraces beyond, with cooling white and dark wood tones in the furniture and materials. Double-paned windows, which open onto the first-level terrace, offer several ways for freedom, permitting unrestricted views onto the ocean while buffering sound (from the highway).

The upstairs rooms continue the overall theme of air, light, and water with repeating materials and colours. The well-dressed master suite faces onto a second large terrace with pocket-glass doors that fold away, converting the stepped upper terrace into a sleeping porch reminiscent of designs by Schindler and Neutra (and last weeks post - David Hertz! [Image]).
For reclining on the teak chaises, billowing fabrics can be drawn above and alongside the terrace to shield the sun and wind.

With the clients goal being a boutique like retreat to entertain guests rather than as a reclusive beach getaway, opulent bright-white materials: Limestone and high gloss surfaces were used to give that crisp light filled feel. In fact, the owners found it too 'bling'. The house was cool crisp and far too full of light, with the white being overwhelming sometimes. Aware of this, Shubin + Donaldson had already incorporated exterior shutters and shades, which compensate in the southern facing rooms. Then in terms of layout, a simple North facing Media room was added with minimal windows at the rear, providing a further space to retreat in summer, and a little getaway for all.

Openness and transformation are themes throughout and are most expressive in the master bath. Cool, ocean-blue frosted glass lines the walls and windows (that face another house on these sought-after lots). Behind the glass swing doors are the toilet and shower. Three layers of floor-to-ceiling glass form a translucent door that closes the space off from the bedroom, or opens it up to the master suite, porch, and Pacific Ocean beyond. Dark wenge wood - used throughout the house as an accent - encases the tub, vanity, and spacious closets. The rich brown colour gently contrasts with the limestone counters and floors. Double mirrors are placed on poles in front of the frosted glass, rather than set into a wall. To name-drop, the tub is designed by Philippe Starck.

First level: living room, dining room, den area, terrace with beach access, powder room. Upper level: home office, guest room and bath, powder room, media room, and master suite with bathroom/walk-in closet, closet office, outdoor sleeping porch.


Architect: Shubin + Donaldson Architects - Robin Donaldson, AIA, Principal and Russell Shubin, AIA, Principal
Interiors: Audrey Alberts, interior design consultant
Commenced: 2001
Photos: Tom Bonner Photography
Article & Imagery: Courtesy - Taylor & Company (many thanks)

via: Taylor & Company