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Pittman Dowell Residence by Michael Maltzan, Los Angeles, USA

[RUNNER-UP AR HOUSE 2010] Michael Maltzan’s sophisticated and radical approach to domesticity. Photograph by Iwan Baan

Located north of Los Angeles on the edge of Angeles National Forest, the Pittman Dowell Residence (AR June 2010) is sited on six acres of land originally envisaged as a hillside development of houses by Richard Neutra. Although three plots were cleared, only one house - the 1952 Serulnic Residence - was ever built, and this was eventually acquired by artists Lari Pittman and Roy Dowell.

This was once a remote area, but the city has grown around it, altering the visual and the physical context. Similarly, the evolving needs of the clients required a new relationship between building and landscape, one that is more urban and contained.

The new building inverts the idealised notion of the late modern Californian house as an extroverted, orthogonal pavilion in the landscape. Rather than concentrating on the immediate indoor/outdoor relationship, permeable courtyard walls focus experience and movement towards the centre of a heptagonal plan.

The purity of the figure is confounded by intersecting diagonal slices. Bounded by this introverted exterior, spaces unfold in an array of shifting perspectival frames. The jury admired the project’s sophisticated and radical approach to ideas of form and domesticity.

Architect Michael Maltzan Architecture, Los Angeles, USA
Structural engineer BW Smith

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