Living in South California, we are no strangers to cutting-edge, modern design.
Living in South California, we are no strangers to cutting-edge, modern design. Frank Lloyd Wright. Pierre Koenig. Charles and Ray Eames. These are just a few innovators who have left some kind of architectural thumbprint on our landscape, one that inspires and educates decades after conception and construction.
In the 21st century, we see a shift towards green design, a movement that will undoubtedly change the way we build and inhabit homes in the future. Architects and designers have defined their own style by combining sustainable resources and groundbreaking technologies with an imaginative contemporary aesthetic. In fact, many of their best projects “recycle” out-dated structures, transforming them into progressive models of eco-conscious living. Luxury Life & Style celebrates a handful of leaders in the progressive green scene, highlighting a few of their recent accomplishments.
After purchasing a property with an existing structure, the owner of this home contacted James Meyer, AIA, of LEAN ARCH and requested a proposal for a major renovation. According to Meyer, the client was interested in the “turn key” option; they had previously viewed LEAN ARCH’s work and wanted to incorporate some of the same strengths into their home.
Known for designs with a distinctly green angle, Meyer and his team planned to recycle the existing structure as much as possible. In fact, they were able to reuse at least 50% of the existing duct work, 50% of the existing dry wall, and the wood flooring. However, there were many aspects of the original home that were poorly planned. “Our job was to iron out as many of these ‘problems’ as we could, open up the space and bring in natural light,” say Meyer.
The top floor, which housed the main living area, proved to be one of the biggest challenges. With the entire floor bisected by the elevator cab, they chose to build the kitchen around the cab, creating a Swiss-army concept for the kitchen’s main consol. “We removed walls and repositioned appliances and cabinetry to make sense with the new plan,” Meyer says.
A second challenge was the exterior balcony. They wanted the area to be more rectangular and bigger on the west elevation. By enlarging the balcony, they were able to position the dining room alongside, creating a very dramatic indoor/outdoor effect at the mid-section of the house.
The new structure incorporated a variety of eco-sensible aspects, including recycled elements in the kitchen, low VOC paints, natural finishes, FSC certified mahogany paneling throughout and cement paneling in the entryway. Additionally, the plan features an all-new state-of-the-art Carrier Infinity Heating System and a highly efficient, multi-zone thermostat. The home cools naturally with ceiling fans and features of Nana walls and transom glass. The sunshades on all decks keep things cool on the inside when it’s not so cool on the outside.
Jones & Potick, Inc.
According to Raphael Weschta, owner of Imagine Custom Landscape, each undertaking should “combine original art and a functional landscape through synergy, imagination and a watchful eye for detail.” This outdoor project proved to be a perfect example of this vision. Both Raphael and his client were eager to utilize green building techniques and resources, which would include reclaimed stone on the walls and the floors, shade tolerant groundcovers, and a drip irrigation system to minimize loss of water due to over spray and runoff. In addition, he chose drought tolerant plants, such as Coprosma, Sedum and Correa, which thrive with little maintenance. The pond itself supports its own small ecosystem with water plants, fishes and a turtle. Ultimately, the landscaper was successful in transforming a small, underused garden into a thriving, natural setting for entertaining, relaxing and recreation.
Imagine Custom Landscape
This project was a complete interior renovation of existing 1926 Spanish Hacienda. The client desired an elegant and contemporary interior while paying homage to the history of the existing structure. Kristin Paige Kamenstein of Jackson Paige Interiors chose pieces that reflected the firm’s commitment to be environmentally conscious without compromising elegant and sophisticated design. In keeping with a theme of green-elegance, they paired reclaimed antique Spanish fire-brick with a rift-cut walnut veneer for the fireplace surround. JPI continued the play of natural sophistication by placing a 1965 Gerald McCabe chrome and glass table on a hand-made 100-knot Tibetan wool rug. A simple yet stunning addition to the room is a Chris Lehrecke for Ralph Pucci walnut pedestal table. Lehrecke’s tables are created from found or organically harvested wood and finished with natural varnishes that allow the wood to breathe. The designers chose to expose the original wood beams throughout the home.
Jackson Paige Interiors
p_House, designed by Robert A. Sweet of ras-a, inc., is a complete transformation of a small, post-war home into a modern live/work residence for a young architect.
Due to budget constraints as well as environmental regard, the client wanted to recycle the original house as much as possible. The challenge was making the small house feel larger without growing it horizontally. While the new design retains the homes original footprint and reuses its foundations, the majority of interior walls where removed or relocated, allowing the living, kitchen and dining area to be one fluid space. A 14-foot wide sliding glass door pockets out of site, extending the space outside to a revamped back yard and swimming pool. This outdoor living area becomes the focal point of the new design while making the modest size of the interior feel more expansive.
The north elevation, which faces the back yard and pool, has floor to ceiling windows providing the interior with an abundance of diffused natural light. A ventilated skylight floods light into an open stairwell which doubles as a thermal chimney allowing warm air from the house to escape. The passive solar design along with the use of highly efficient ceiling fans eliminates the need for A/C, and a clean burning modern stove reduces the heating loads during the colder months. Other sustainable building materials and methods used include a tankless water heater, FSC certified cedar, cement board siding, high solar reflective roofing, low VOC paints, bamboo flooring, and xeriscape yards.
This creative space, built by Sean Icaza of Icaza Construction, beautifully marries a green sensibility with a playful, industrial living environment. As seen from the viewpoint on an elaborate stair path above the main room, a flood of natural light streams in from a collage of windows on one wall of the structure. The exterior shell of the structure itself is recycled steel with recycled denim serving as insulation over traditional fiberglass. Sunflower seed board (made from waste sunflower hulls) was employed for the interior wall coverings, replacing gypsum-based drywall. The floor below is made of ash concrete and enjoys an energy efficient Radiant Heating system. Additionally, the project features low VOC Soycrete stain and finish on the floors and low VOC paints and finishes throughout. The home is wired for solar panels installation in the near future.
Sitting atop the sprawl of a rocking elephant’s back as she lumbers smoothly up the long, steep ramp leading to Amber Fort I realize I have a huge smile on my face. This is why I came to India, I muse: to parade like a pasha in Rajasthan.