Pacific Coast Highway Condos

Pacific Coast Highway Condos

Architect
Martin Fenlon Architecture
Location
Malibu, United States
Category
Housing

Pacific Coast Highway Condos

Martin Fenlon Architecture as Architects

The California countryside, as seen from a passing car, served as inspiration for approaching this project. When you’re driving through this countryside, there’s a tendency for all of the disparate elements running through it, such as the roadside, its guardrails, adjacent fields, train tracks, tree lines, the horizon, etc., to visually orchestrate into parallel bands which race together alongside of you. This phenomenon is at once simple and profound; perpendicular to your direction of movement at any given time is a stratum of diverse elements, from the universality of the horizon to the particularity of the roadside, layered into in a single, fleeting moment. This visual condition served as an approach for articulating an architecture that is akin to this countryside; one that is at once linear and heterogeneous.


The site, a nearly rural ocean view plot sitting on a busy highway, was to be articulated into a series of heterogeneous bands which would yield a complexity that addressed a broad range of needs while maintaining a calm coherence, not unlike the ocean across the street. At first, the structure was divided into two primary strata. Not just as a gesture of paying homage to the horizon, which becomes a powerful feature as one gazes out towards the ocean, but also as a way of negotiating the steep hillside and the requirement of different programmatic zones. The lower levels of the garage and main living areas step up the hillside and form a concrete plinth on which the wood-clad prism of the bedroom level sits. These levels were then articulated into substrata; a weathered steel band at the bottom forms an entry court that runs along the street, above differing bands of glass (to reflect the varying needs of privacy) run under calculated overhangs that control the southern exposure. The result is a south facing street façade that maximizes natural light and the view of the ocean while setting up a system of passive heating and cooling. The summer sun is kept out, the cool ocean air cross-ventilates the spaces, and hot air is forced up into the stair hall which acts as a solar chimney. In the winter the spaces are heated by the sun being absorbed into the concrete floors along with a radiant floor system that uses collected rainwater. The materiality of the project is an important way of furthering a sustainable approach while reflecting the region at large. The palette of board-formed concrete, weathered steel and torched wood siding evoke fleeting moments extracted from the area and the region, be it a vine-strewn concrete freeway overpass, a rusted industrial shack sitting along the coast, or a charred hillside recovering from the latest wildfire.


Through these strata, which consist of a variation of different spaces, forms, and materials, the beautiful California region is extracted and evoked. Also, an architecture is created where linearity and heterogeneity conspire to create a sustainable expression that is at once a site specific response and an accumulation of its time and place.

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