Boundaries are blurred and expectations are exceeded in this 19,000-square-foot idyll in the hills of Los Angeles, California.
You may recognise the lofty, fluid forms of Mandeville Canyon from the cover of est magazine issue #43. Here, we take a deep dive into this standout project, showcasing its arresting beauty and reverence for the Californian landscape. ‘Think big, start small’ is the approach Los Angeles-based architecture firm Walker Workshop took; designing a home that’s both unpretentiously majestic and rustically refined.
A minimally furnished, centrally located loggia frames views of the Santa Monica beaches to the south of the home, flanked by large stone walls.
The spirit of Mandeville Canyon is in its surroundings – in the rolling hills punctuated by desert fan palms, and coast live oaks – and in the gentle ocean breeze. These contextual cues bring to pass a ‘modern-rustic’ home, composing simple forms and stripped-down references to traditional American farmhouses.
In a city where the weather is warm almost all year round, the materials follow suit. Travertine, white oak, terracotta, and western red cedar, among other intrinsically warm materials, make up the DNA of Mandeville Canyon. “The goal was to keep the material palette simple and unadorned while also staying true to the home’s surroundings,” principal architect Noah Walker says.
The home’s upper floor contains three bedrooms and two home offices, while the lower floor sees the integration of several guest-rooms, a caretaker wing, a gym and a 75-feet indoor lap pool. Dining, living and kitchen spaces can also be found on this level, with views onto a second, much larger outdoor pool and a twenty-five thousand square-foot yard. “The culmination of these features makes for quite an enchanted living environment,” Noah says.
These spaces are arranged within an open-air floor plan, effectively dissolving the boundary between inside and outside. It helps, of course, that all the doors can be pocketed away to erase any traces of separation. There is an unspoken agreement between ‘the built’ and ‘the natural’, one where the former answers to the latter.
From the outset, Noah knew how special this project was going to be, but never did he expect it to be so globally recognised. No doubt, the home will go on to inspire other architects looking to pay homage to Californian shapes and vernaculars – all the while maintaining its outlier status.
The highly curated interiors are a collaboration between Walker Workshop and Los Angeles-based interior design studio Jamie Bush + Co.
Walker Workshop have taken advantage of the frequent sunshine in Los Angeles by casting playful shadows all around Mandeville Canyon.
Drawing inspiration from the original Hacienda vernacular, Rustic Canyon combines a generous openness with a natural embrace of the surrounding landscape. Walker Workshop propose a series of interconnected, yet separate pavilions that intercept and connect across the site through a shared warmth.
As the form sits nestled into a canyon of the same name, the private and reclusive home is tucked into place while remaining seemingly open to the surroundings. In its densely landscaped setting, the bold and light proportions of the home offer a welcomed balance, clearly visible yet distinctly different.
The kitchen is described as a cathedral, where light intercepts the architectural form.
Coming together as a formation of similar proportioned parts, four separate pavilion forms extend outward from a central convening space. Defying the traditional ideas of enclosure within a residence, the defining characteristic of the home is one of openness; toward the landscape and between the internal parts to continually remind its residents of a sense of place.
Through the lens of interior designer Lisa Petrazzolo, an overall warmth binds the home and its parts, with a series of muted tones used throughout, given depth by textural elements. The encasing stucco masonry forms the main mass of the home and defines the exterior, while generous swaths of glazing allow framed connections between the inside and out. Timber is used internally alongside painted plaster to emphasise a sense of calm.
The centrally located dining space brings a curation of custom and collected furniture, artwork and lighting elements as a place to gather and socialise.
A rhythm is created through repetition, scale, and containment of volumes across the site. The large and thinly framed steel windows then mark the boundary of the home while still offering a sense of connection between inside and out. The central living volumes house the kitchen and living areas, all surrounded by glass, made to feel like a terrarium of sorts by the immersion among the natural elements.
The Los Angeles home is an idyllic retreat among its surroundings, and it allows a connection to nature while not with any compromises of an urban setting. Rustic Canyon and its voluminous interiors allow the home to breathe, openable to allow breezes and the weather to pass through the spaces throughout the year. Walker Workshop and Lisa Petrazzolo have conjured a relaxing place that feels even further removed from civilisation than it is.