SAOTA’s Hillside home in Los Angeles is located immediately above Sunset Boulevard on a promontory just one over from Pierre Koenig’s landmark Stahl House. The site is a 20 000 square foot estate, featuring 300-degree views over the LA skyline and the city basin below, and the design was conceived of more as a self-contained oasis rather than a conventional house.
The Stahl House served as a key point of departure. The forms and articulation of Hillside’s roof planes, which were pushed as far forward as possible so that they could create meaningful external covered living spaces, set its architecture in dialogue with the iconic silhouette nearby and connect it to the drama of its context.
The projecting eaves and soffits create a “fifth” façade proved fortuitous in creating a sense of identity because the wraparound perimeter views necessitated the carefully controlled placement of solid walls and extensive use of glass to maximise the panoramic potential of the site. Consequently, the architecture is defined through the floating, overlapping horizontal floor and roof plates curating specific view axes rather than mass walls or external structure.
The steep approach from below resulted in a dramatic entrance through a top-lit central atrium – rising via a 12-car underground garage and an indoor waterfall cascading into a courtyard – before surfacing into the centre of the living level in a dramatic moment of revelation as a dead-on view of downtown LA opens up.
The programme is arranged around this focal view, loosely forming two wings, one oriented east-west, and the other northsouth. The largely open-plan interior, in the absence of mass walls, has been articulated vertically and through volumetric changes