Neil Denari

Massey Residence, 1996

Designed for Richard Massey, a collaborator and friend of the architect (graphic artist for his monograph Gyroscopic Horizons in 1999), this house had to fit onto a typical plot (45 meters long and 15 meters wide) in West Los Angeles. The program allowed for 230 m2 of dwelling space (which included three bedrooms and two bathrooms), a garage and a large swimming pool. Opting for a section-based spatial organization rather than one on plan, Denari proposed a vertical stratification of interconnected spaces, set out along a monumental staircase. The house stands in a 2.60 meter deep concrete excavation. The architect took advantage of this feature to design a building which is 9 meters high, divided into seven interlocking half-levels. By playing with verticality, Denari associated a vocabulary and materials that give the project a technological dimension. A continuous skin of steel sheeting folds onto itself to create the outside wall and the roof. The house is fixed on a steel framework which isolates it from the ground and emphasizes the machine-like aspects of a levitating building whose structure has been left exposed. An access ramp leads to the entrance and the garage, located under the living areas, while the pool is located behind the house, where the land has been left at street level. Thus, Denari transfigures the standard and typical suburban construction conditions to propose a house whose outward appearance reveals part of its originality, thanks to the views provided by the curtain windows: the sleek formal exterior is contrasted with the subtle vertical division of the internal spaces.

Gilles Rion

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