James Perse House

James Perse House

The program was to remodel an existing one-bedroom, 2,300 square foot house.  The house is oriented to the north and east around a swimming pool, with a narrow side yard to the south.  This orientation and the original compartmentalized interior presented an oppressively dark living space.  The original site sloped substantially.

The architectural solution was to liberate the space:  remove most of the original interior walls, fill the house with diffuse natural light, and create a landscape that extends the living area to the exterior.  The interior spaces are now continuous, wrapping around the pool along a wall of glass.  The lack of traditional walls and furnishings reflects the client’s lifestyle; kitchen and dining room tables have been replaced with a maple bar and a lounge area.  The house appears to be a single open space, however the bedroom can still be separated with a sliding partition.

A 31 foot long natural light slot, inspired by the work of Alvar Aalto and James Turrell, was created along the south edge of the living area.  The ceiling joists were cut to allow the south wall to be curved up to the roof rafters, and five skylights were spaced above an angled reflector.  Only indirect light enters the space; the south light is diffused and reflected along the length of the wall, changing in color with the days and seasons.  This intervention transforms the space; the warm indirect light is balanced by the open northern exposure, and the 8 foot ceiling appears to float.

A large flat lawn was created at the east end of the site by balancing cut and fill, and the house was opened toward this new landscape plane.  The pool and lawn are bounded by three L-shaped concrete retaining walls.  A wall of bamboo bounds the north and east edges of the lot, and a wooden walkway leads from the pool to an outdoor shower, folding vertically to form another “L.”  Large openings were added in the bedroom and master bathroom, each looking out to different vignettes of this landscape.


  • Residence

  • Hollywood Hills

  • 2,300sqft remodel & landscape

  • TEAM

  • Jeffrey Allsbrook, Silvia Kuhle

  • Structural Engineer |

  • MEP Engineer |

  • Photos © Claudio Santini

  • © 1999 Standard®